The rush to criminalize and punish has led to a draconian culture. There is an irrevocable nature to our penal system that has created a class of people that are marked, stigmatized, and isolated. We cannot propose on the one hand that all mistakes are permanent, and on the other hand we cannot live with the pretense that we live in society that believes in redemption.
So rarely is being humane part of our criminal justice system, Ban the Box is an attempt to inject humanity into and often cruel system. When a debt to society is paid, it must be considered paid in full. When a sentence is over we must keep our promise not make a life sentence out of every conviction.
Rhode Island stepped up and provided a path for the formerly incarcerated to engage in the full economic life of RI. It is common sense, after all we believe that when a debt is paid then it is paid. Rhode Island took a bold step to undo the damage of mass incarceration. The tool to do this was Ban the Box. This is a law that prohibits a box on an employment application that asks about a criminal record. This was done because that little box became a short cut to a rubbish bin. Ban the Box allowed an applicant to discuss their status directly with an employer. This provides a path to a relationship, a chance to explain circumstance, a chance to move on. FULL ARTICLE