Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. We’re a city of Firsts, from the first library and volunteer fire company to the first hospital.
We are also the City of Second Chances and Redemption, and that’s why last Monday I signed what advocates for ex-offenders call the “Ban the Box” ordinance.
The “box” refers to the question that often appears on employment applications asking the job seeker to disclose whether he or she has a criminal conviction.
Too often, a “yes” response to the question ends any possibility that a person, who has paid his debt to society and is often hobbled by a lack of skills and education, will be given a fair hearing on a job opening.
The stigma of a past conviction shuts the door on employment while keeping the revolving door of recidivism spinning to the detriment of our City and neighborhoods. For an ex-offender to rebuild his life and become a productive member of a community and an economy, he must have gainful employment.