The Aiken County Branch of the NAACP is planning to take its demand locally to Ban the Box to Aiken City Council.

In the branch’s ’s July newsletter, sent out by email Monday, President Eugene White invited NAACP members to join the branch’s leadership at City Council’s July 13 meeting to “discuss” the issue.

He wrote that the NAACP would present a petition supporting Ban the Box to City Council then.

White told the Aiken Standard during a telephone interview Monday that the NAACP collected signatures for the petition during a face mask giveaway and voter registration event that was organized by Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and held at the Aiken Standard on July 4.

The petition also is available for supporters to sign on change.org.

It is called “Ban the Box in Aiken, SC.”

As of Monday afternoon, there were 21 signatures on change.org.

Ban the Box is an initiative that seeks to remove the box from employment applications that job candidates are asked to check if they have a criminal record.

The NAACP’s Aiken County Branch wants employers to wait and ask the question about criminal history during a face-to-face interview or after a conditional job offer has been made to an applicant “contingent upon the criminal background check,” according to the newsletter.

“Statistics show that normally when someone discloses on a job application that they have been convicted of a crime, there is a 50% less chance that they are invited or receive a callback for an interview,” White said. “These people have paid their debt to society, but they are currently being denied the opportunity to obtain gainful employment.”

United States Bureau of Justice figures showed that in 2018 Black males accounted for 34% of the total male prison population. White males accounted for 29%, and Hispanic males accounted for 24%.

But White said he considers the Ban the Box initiative to be “cross-cultural” because “statistics say that one in three people have some sort of criminal record.”

According to multiple online sources, more than 30 states and more than 150 cities have adopted some form of Ban the Box or fair-chance hiring policies that prevent employers from automatically disqualifying potential candidates who have a criminal record.

“As we deconstruct the old normal and try to replace it with the new normal, getting people back to work with jobs that pay a livable wage is an important first step,” White said. “That first step pays valuable dividends in the long run by empowering people to set their own destinies.”

In addition to City Council, the Aiken County Branch of the NAACP hopes to discuss the Ban the Box initiative with elected officials in other municipalities in the county and with County Council.

Last month, the branch announced a list of demands for local law enforcement and governments that included the following in addition to Ban the Box:

1. Establish citizen's review boards with subpoena powers for all law enforcement entities in Aiken County, including colleges and the university.

2. Review the use-of-force policies of the departments in Aiken County and recommend changes where appropriate; ban knee and chokeholds if they are still part of the policy.

3. Call for a ban of no-knock warrants, the cause of death for Breonna Taylor.

​Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. For more access to these types of articles subscribe at my special rate. Click here