Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99
News Opinion Readers Respond

'Ban-the-box' law unlikely to change hiring practices [Letter]

Columnist Dan Rodricks is correct that "Ban the Box" is "feel-good legislation whose effectiveness is supported by good intentions rather than by the evidence ("'Ban the box' feels good but won't achieve much," March 22).

It won't make any difference. Negligent hiring is a tort action by which a plaintiff can recover damages from an employer who hires an ex-offender, if the ex-offender commits a crime against the plaintiff in the course of his or her duties of employment. Historically, 72 percent of plaintiffs prevail when litigating negligent hiring claims against employers.

In these cases, litigants are awarded an average of $1.6 million in punitive and compensatory damages. Simply removing a box from an application will not make it more likely that an employer will risk this type of exposure.

However, take issue with one of Mr. Rodricks' points. In Baltimore City at any given time, almost 50 percent of African-American males between the ages of 18-35 are under the control of the criminal justice system, either incarcerated or under supervision. Given these circumstances, hiring ex-offenders can't be viewed as a mere luxury or, as you put it, an act of "generosity." Only when we begin to view employing ex-offenders as a matter of public safety will we begin to make progress on this issue.

It is unreasonable to think that we can alienate such a significant portion of the African-American population from the job market without severe repercussions. Our murder and crime rates prove this. Studies show that employment, even marginal employment, reduces recidivism significantly for offenders ages 27 and above.

The communities that suffer the majority of the violence in the city need help addressing this issue. Clearly, the communities need to do their part in cooperating with police. But residents who live in communities rarely affected by the violence in the city can also assist in addressing the issue by making an effort to hire ex-offenders who've demonstrated that they are prepared to conduct themselves appropriately in the workplace.

As Mr. Rodricks rightly stated, we would all benefit if re-entry programs were linked directly to small- and medium-sized businesses that provided job opportunities for program graduates. He deserves thanks for his hard work and advocacy regarding this issue.

Maurice Vann

-
To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Unitas' version of Grand Cru lacks the charm of the original
    Unitas' version of Grand Cru lacks the charm of the original

    While I'm glad that the grandson of an esteemed Baltimore hero is investing in our community, I can't help but long for the old Grand Cru ("Grand Cru reopens, with new owner and a touch of Woodberry," March 31). The experience of walking into a chaotic kitchen of a dear disorganized friend...

  • We can end childhood hunger in Maryland
    We can end childhood hunger in Maryland

    One in five of Baltimore kids facing hunger is a tragedy that demands action. The excellent food pantry programs in Baltimore are inspiring to say the least, and are one effective piece in the puzzle of combating childhood hunger in Baltimore and throughout our state. ("More Md. schools opening...

  • Federal Hill 'stroll' was a drunken stumble
    Federal Hill 'stroll' was a drunken stumble

    Don't blame the Irish for this one. The "Irish Stroll" that brought approximately 8,000 folks to the Federal Hill area of Baltimore for the purpose of a pre-St. Patrick's Day bar crawl with 17 "establishments" participating on March 14 was an ill-conceived and poorly executed event sanctioned...

  • A new Baltimorean, mindful of the old
    A new Baltimorean, mindful of the old

    Professor D. Watkins' story hit a chord ("Native author D. Watkins: 'I don't know this new Baltimore,'" March 25). "Why must every black resident be displaced as soon as opportunity rides the gentrification train into town?" He opines for "Old Baltimore" and shuns this "New Baltimore" he does...

  • What millennials need from Baltimore
    What millennials need from Baltimore

    The willingness of millennials to move to urban areas will be the salvation of cities as long as the cities recognize what they have to do to keep them for more than a few years. To avoid future millennial flight ("City population shrinks slightly in new estimates," March 26), cities will...

  • Can we trust the unseen pilot?
    Can we trust the unseen pilot?

    The allegations that a co-pilot intentionally crashed a commercial airliner killing all 150 people aboard in an apparent act of murder-suicide is unbelievably disturbing, especially to those of us who fly frequently ("Can anyone prevent future Germanwings tragedies?" March 31). One news...

Comments
Loading