On Tuesday February 23, 2015, Governor Nathan Deal used personal privilege Tuesday as he signed an executive order of the ‘ban the box’ hiring policy. With this action, Georgia residents seeking employment will no longer have to disclose their criminal histories on the application during the hiring process. More so, this move allows citizens who are re-entering society from incarceration the ability to be considered on work merit, skills and qualifications and not past criminal convictions during the initial stages of hiring.
I commend the Governor’s decision. As the Chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, I thank the Governor for understanding that there are thousands of citizens who may have an unfavorable past who just want to create a promising future.
What happens to that mother and/or father who is released from prison and wants to make a better life for his/her family and what options do we provide them? We can’t cripple their ability to prosper.
According to the executive order, the policy will allow returning citizens an opportunity to explain their unique circumstances in person to a potential employer and removes the option completely. This idea was recommended in 2014 by the criminal justice reform council put together by Governor Deal. Statistics from Deal’s office says that about 97 percent of those sentenced to prison in Georgia will eventually be released, and more than 1,300 re-enter society each month without employment.
Representative Al Williams (D-Midway), sponsor of House Resolution 1102 which is an initiative of the GA Legislative Black Caucus, also commented on the signing today. He said, “Let me quote the great philosopher of soul, Sam Cooke when he said it’s been a long time coming but a change is gonna come!”
Co-sponsors of this resolution include Representative Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta), Representative Pamela Stephenson (D-Decatur) Representative Keisha Waites (D- Atlanta), Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler (D-Lithonia) and Representative Karen Bennett (D- Stone Mountain) asked for the support of the ‘ban the box’ initiatives to facilitate re-entry into the workforce and for other purposes.
The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus is the largest state black caucus in the nation with a membership of sixty-one state legislators representing over 3 million people.
Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler
Ga. House District 91 (D-Lithonia)