Ban the Box: Why fair chance hiring is so important among offenders

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Senate Bill 200 is set to go to the senate floor for debate. The legislation, also known as the 'Ban The Box" movement, is a bill that allows for employers to consider job applicants qualifications before knowing their criminal record.

Manager of the Huntsville Career Center Mike Fowler said they serve a large number of people with criminal records.

"We have a lot of ex-felons come in, folks that have been recently released," he said.

Fowler said they are the ones who face the biggest roadblocks when filling out job applications, thanks to the box they have to check regarding their criminal history.

"A lot of the individuals that we've worked with over the years maybe made a mistake when they were much younger. They've paid for that mistake and they're ready to get back into society," he explained.

Adrian Muller had some non-violent drug offenses from back in the seventies in Connecticut on his record.

"I moved here in 2002, had a hard time finding employment and housing due to my federal offense," said Muller.

Because of that experience, Muller fought to have those offenses expunged from his record.

"They see that checked box with a felony offense and they would just discard it," he said.

Without a record he was finally able to find a good job with that paid a livable wage, close to home. He was finally able to be just like everyone else, which is what most offenders want, once they're released.

"I had a local job that I could sleep in my bed at night, be close to my wife, and have a normal life," said Muller.

He said SB 200 and the Ban The Box movement will help offenders get back on equal playing field with the rest of society.

"It would give them the opportunity to get into the door, to get an interview, which they don't have today," said Muller.

Adrian Muller has since founded the Alabama Non-Violent Offenders organization. They are advocates for offenders, and help them get their records expunged, and voting rights re-established. To learn more about the organization you can can visit their website by clicking here.

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