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'Ban the Box' law represents a much-needed reform [Letter]

Donald Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, recently wrote that the Baltimore City Council's attempt to pass "Ban the Box" was misguided ("'Ban the Box' law is wrong approach," March 19).

"Ban the Box" is a national movement to introduce common-sense policies regarding the use of criminal records on employment applications. Since Mr. Fry's organization is primarily supported by business, it is understandable that he would write such a one-sided letter supporting the short-sighted views of a minority of the Maryland community.

Mr. Fry states the legislation would "make it more expensive to do business in the city than in surrounding counties that do not have as many restrictions." Yet he fails to support this view with any quantitative data.

He also claims that the legislation "would subject employers to criminal and civil penalties should a violation of the law occur." Again, I am unsure how this would be possible, since background checks are allowed after the initial application and interview.

Finally, he claims that the "unintended consequences of passing this proposal would likely harm the business climate in the city and could limit job growth as new companies or existing employers looking to expand may elect to do so in a neighboring county without this restrictive hiring procedure."

Again, he has no data supporting this assertion. In fact, the opposite has been proven based on statistical analysis of the economies of the more than 50 states and municipalities that have already passed Ban the Box legislation.

Those states and cities have not experienced anything like what Mr. Fry claims and, contrary to his belief, they not only have seen a reduction in recidivism but an increase in business opportunities as well as a reduction in unemployment.

Although Ban the Box legislation is a good beginning point, it is in fact just a beginning. Other major cities are expanding on cutting-edge social reforms that allow communities to compete in the global market. Maryland must embrace this trend too.

Jay Adams, Baltimore

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