Justice requires sure, proportional punishment for crime. But justice also requires second chances for those who have paid their debt to society and have the capacity to be productive, positive citizens.
That’s why New Rochelle is joining lots of other municipalities and businesses to “Ban-the-Box.” This initiative removes questions about past convictions from employment applications, helping to ensure that such convictions do not function as an automatic, upfront disqualifier. A criminal record can still be considered in job interviews and hiring decisions, but this revised process encourages us to look at the whole person and not just a single past mistake.
I am glad New Rochelle is taking this step. It’s the right thing to do . . . and it’s also the smart thing to do, because when people are denied an opportunity to move forward, all of us foot the bill in the form of higher recidivism rates, social distress, and public safety costs.