President Obama calls to ''ban the box'' for federal job applicants with prison records so that they are ''given a chance'' to get through the door. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: President Barack Obama, who has made criminal justice reform a top priority of his last year in office, announced actions Monday (November 2) to help formerly incarcerated people reintegrate into society. "Around 70 million Americans have some sort of criminal record," he said at an appearance in Newark, New Jersey. "That is almost one in five of us, almost one in three of Americans of working age. Now a lot of time that record disqualifies you from being a full participant in our society, even if you have already paid your debt to society." Obama is also directing the Office of Personnel Management to take steps where possible to modify its rules in order to delay inquiries into criminal backgrounds until later in the hiring process. "I am taking action to ban the box for the most competitive jobs at federal agencies," he said. "If you answer yes, then a lot of times you are not getting a call back. We are going to do our part to change this." Noting that more than 600,000 people were released every year from state and federal prisons, the White House said: "Advancing policies and programs that enable these men and women to put their lives back on track and earn their second chance promotes not only justice and fairness, but also public safety." He added that it is relevant to find out if someone has a criminal record, adding that when it comes to the application "give folks a chance to get through the door." Obama in July became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. He has called on Congress to pass sentencing reform to help reduce the number of people serving long sentences for non-violent drug crimes. With only 5 percent of the world's population, the United States accounts for about 25 percent of the world's prison population, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.