July 7, 2008
Over the past three years, our partner organization, the Boston Workers Alliance (BWA) has worked tirelessly to reform Criminal Offense Record Information (CORI). Now, the chance to make real change is before us as the state legislature is bringing a CORI reform bill to vote before summer recess on July 31.
Representative Eugene O'Flaherty, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, is proposing a bill that reduces the CORI sealing periods to five years for misdemeanors and ten years for a felony. While this is a good first step, the BWA continues to build support to bring the sealing period down to three and seven years respectively.
Currently, many employers use applications that require a potential employee to divulge their criminal history. Because of this application question, employers are 50 percent less likely to offer interviews to white applicants and 64 percent less likely to call back black applicants with a record. Providing criminal history on job applications prevents employers from considering resumes, references or relevance of the offense. CORIs include people with juvenile records, people arrested but not convicted and people cleared of charges.
The BWA is asking our legislators to remove the CORI question from all job application forms. Clearing this upfront discrimination by "banning the box" would improve job access and still allow employers to consider criminal records for applicants who are otherwise qualified for the job.
If this bill is not passed by the end of July, it cannot be considered again until 2009. Public pressure would help ensure that "banning the box" is included in the upcoming legislation. Boston and Cambridge have already removed the criminal question from job applications, and if this demand is included, the changes would be enacted statewide, enabling stronger, safer communities for all.
If you would like to support the bill, contact your elected officials or join the BWA legislative team.