Tennessee Senate Passes Ban-the-Box Legislation
The Tennessee Senate recently passed Senate Bill 2440 with a 25 to 7 vote. The bill, colloquially known as “ban-the box,” requires state employers to delay inquiring about criminal records while considering candidates for employment. Certain jobs do not qualify for this deferment, such as those requiring a criminal background check under federal law or jobs in education. Additionally, this bill is not an attempt to force employers to hire a convicted criminal, but rather necessitates a more holistic and thorough consideration of applicants, regardless of their criminal background.
ALEC supports this effort and has model policy to ban-the-box on public job applications, which precludes state employers asking about criminal history on the initial application. It does permit the employer to inquire about prior criminal history and any mitigating factors later in the application process, such as the length of time elapsed since the offense, the age at the time of conviction, and the nature and gravity of the offense. ALEC recognizes the importance of employment for stable and prosperous communities, and the essential role employment plays in reducing recidivism. This issue is especially crucial when bearing in mind between 70 and 100 million Americans have a criminal history, some including minor infractions, misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes.
More than 100 cities and 20 states of varying political ideologies have already enacted some form of ban-the-box policy. While states are altering specifics of the policy to best suit the views and concerns of their constituents, ALEC is thrilled to see the progress of this legislation throughout the country.