Urge Your Senator to Support “Ban the Box” Legislation

Senator Dance’s SB 335, the “ban the box” legislation, was approved on Monday, January 18 by the Senate’s General Laws and Technology committee on a vote of 9-6.  SB 335 generally bars state agencies from inquiring into a job candidate’s criminal background before making a conditional offer of employment, and it prevents them from withdrawing such an offer unless a past conviction relates to the duties and responsibilities of the relevant position. The bill also guarantees local public employers’ ability to ban the box, without mandating that they do so.

Senator Dance stated, “Once they’ve paid their dues, former offenders deserve to rejoin society — but without a job, that’s almost impossible. This bill will ensure that our fellow Virginians are judged on their skills, knowledge, and abilities — not their past mistakes. Many of these folks want nothing more than to become working, participating citizens: to reintegrate into society and pay their taxes. I’m pleased we’ve taken this step to give them a second chance.”

The full Senate will consider the bill later this week.  The Senate vote is expected to be very close, so your assistance is needed now.

Please email and/or call the state Senator that represents your area no later than today, Tuesday, January 19 and state your support for SB 335.  Here is a sample phone script/email you may use:

“I am calling/writing to state my support for Senator Dance’s SB 335.  I am a supporter of Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR) of Arlington, a nonprofit which works with individuals returning to the community after incarceration.  OAR clients are directly impacted by the issues that SB 335 addresses.  How can we expect individuals to be released from incarceration and make positive changes in their lives if we as a community are not providing them ample support to do so?  If an individual’s past criminal charge has nothing to do with the job they are applying for, and they are otherwise qualified for the position, they should not be excluded as a candidate simply because of their charge.  We as a community can do better than this.  I urge you to vote for SB 335.  Thank you!”

If you don’t know who your senator is, you can look it up here:  http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/

The Senators email addresses and Richmond office phone numbers can be found here:  http://lis.virginia.gov/161/mbr/MBR.HTM

If the Senator is unavailable to take your call, leave a brief message with the legislative aide, making the same points as listed above.  Thank you for taking action!