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  • Writer's pictureTom Liesegang

Ban The Box With Ali T. Muhammad

Updated: May 7, 2019

NAB supports many of the initiatives in the campaign by Ali T Muhammad for the next mayoral election for the city of Newburgh. One of the issues his campaign will address is “banning the box”. What is the “box”? The box can be seen on many paper job application forms: “have you ever been convicted of a felony?” If you check the “yes” box, odds are you will be permanently removed from the labor market. You are disenfranchised, marginalized, disempowered, and forgotten. Fodder for recidivism and a return to prison. A never-ending cycle of systemic poverty. The box is nothing more than a grandchild of old Mr. Jim Crow. A grandchild of an insidious nature intended to break an African American's will, shatter self esteem, and lock them and their family in a never ending cycle of hopelessness and poverty. They cannot vote, get a job, afford a car, put food on the table without federal assistance, in essence, these are the people America just throws away.

The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the highest per-capita incarceration rate. In America, African Americans make up only 13 percent of the population, meanwhile they account for approximately half of the prison population. In 2016 in the US, there were 655 people incarcerated per 100,000 population. This is the US incarceration rate for adults or people tried as adults. This is a lot of people being thrown to the wolves.

Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States.[1] All were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The laws were enforced up until the civil rights movement in 1965.

In Ali's words:

"Ban the box combats systemic racism as well as oppression of the most marginalized people.

We need to ensure that laws like ban the box are implemented because historically we have been affected by both low employment rates and high incarceration rates. We owe it to our neighbors as public servants to advocate and champion ways to improve their quality of life."

Application for employment- Note the box

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