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Broward Clergy and Residents Urge County Commissioners to Ban the Box

With a Commission vote looming, community members from across Broward County will be speaking in support of passing Ban the Box legislation

MEDIA ADVISORY
May 24, 2016

Contact: Elizabeth Fernandez, elizabeth.fernandez@seiufl.org, 954-652-9897

WHAT:   Ban the Box initial vote
WHEN:  Tuesday, May 24 at 10 am
WHERE: Broward County Commission Chambers
             115 S. Andrews Ave.
             Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Fort Lauderdale, FL — The Broward County Commission will be having its initial vote on Ban the Box legislation on May 24. Affected community members will be there to urge the Commission to eliminate criminal history questions from county job applications, share their personal stories, and discuss the impact the legislation could have on them with reporters.

Research shows people of color are disproportionately affected by “the box,” making up 14% of the US, but 40% of the incarcerated population, and it takes African Americans with past convictions three times as long to get a callback or a job offer. In other cities and counties, Ban the Box legislation has had a huge impact on hiring. In Durham, North Carolina, for example, there was a jump in the proportion of people with records hired for municipal jobs, rising from 2.25% to 15%.

“Yes, I made a mistake, but that’s not who I am now,” said Demetrius Ivory, who was convicted of simple possession 25 years ago and has been haunted by the charge ever since. “I’m a single father trying to take care of my family and looking for better opportunities and ways to improve myself. I’ve applied for County jobs over and over again for the past six years, and have never heard back once. I just a want a second chance.”

Miramar resident Pastor Rhonda Thomas of Faith in Florida has been fighting for years to restore the rights of returning citizens. She has seen first-hand the impact “the box” has had on members of the community. “Restoring the dignity and humanity of people with records gives them a real chance to succeed for the sake of their families and communities,” Thomas said. “That’s why we’re urging Broward County to pass Ban the Box and give everybody a fair chance at a good job.”

While Ban the Box wouldn’t eliminate background checks, it would give individuals who have interacted with the criminal justice system a fair chance to compete for employment and be judged on their qualifications first, without the stigma of an arrest or a conviction. To date, 23 states and more than 100 cities and counties have passed Ban the Box legislation, Including Miami-Dade.

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SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees and property service workers in the state of Florida. SEIU members provide vital public services in Florida’s hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities. With over 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America.