Identical bills to end criminal background checks await committee hearings in both chambers of the New Jersey legislature.
New Jersey advocacy groups want lawmakers to "ban the box" on job applications that asks job seekers if they've ever been convicted of a crime.
Over a hundred people rallied in Trenton Wednesday to drum-up support for the so-called "New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act".
If passed, employers would only be able to check criminal history after a conditional job offer is made. It would also grant applicants the right to appeal denial of employment within ten business days.
Ray Chao is a student at Princeton University and the Executive Director of the group Ban the Box New Jersey. He said job seekers with criminal backgrounds shouldn't be discriminated against, especially since most involve non-violent crimes.
“[These convictions] can follow someone for two, four, even ten years after it has happened,” said Chao. “Instead of judging someone by a mistake they made ten years ago, we should be evaluating them on what they can contribute today."
According to the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, a criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a job callback or offer by nearly 50%.
Committee hearings for the legislation are scheduled to start this month.