Target To Stop Asking Criminal History On Job Applications

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Target Corporation will no longer be asking job applicants about their criminal history, until after they’ve made a provisional job offer.

Minnesota became the third state this year to pass a law requiring employers to force offenders to self-identify, as concern grows over employment discrimination.

Surveys revealed that between 60 and 75 percent of people with a criminal history are unable to find work for up to a year after incarceration, reported ThinkProgress. When former inmates can’t find work, they are more likely to return to a life of crime.

A movement called “Ban the Box” has pressured private employers to stop eliminating applicants with a criminal history before an interview or a provisional job offer.

Target has approved a “Ban the Box” statute that will go into effect as of 2014. The Minneapolis-based retailer, with $73 billion in annual revenue, is Minnesota’s third-largest employer.

About 40 percent of people who are released from prison in the U.S. return within three years of release.

Inmate Antwaun Wells gave his opinion on recidivism on Ira Glass’ radio show “This American Life” back in July.

“Sometimes you get pinned in a corner and you’re forced to do what you know,” said Wells. “Like when I got out of the penitentiary this time, for three days I wore the same clothes until I went out and had to steal me some clothes. My sister and my brother and my mama didn’t give me no handout.

He said he “applied for 35 jobs with my little brother. And just because both of us is felons, we got nowhere.”

“So what am I gonna do?” he asked. “I’m going to go commit a crime, make me some money, and then go get me a dope sack.”

“I feel like society made a lot of rules to keep people safe,” he said. "But at the same time, the people that they was trying to keep safe from, they gave us no other option but to go back out and re-offend because they put so many limitations on what we could do that where you have no other option but to go back to what you used to do.”

Target has also agreed to give $100,000 to the Council on Crime and Justice, a Minneapolis-based social justice organization, to support offender social and occupational rehabilitee programs.

“Target is helping to level the playing field a little more,” the council’s vice president Mark Haase told the StarTribune. “Now people may be able to get a job and support their families.”

Sources: ThinkProgress, This American Life, StarTribune