AUSTIN (KXAN) — Current Texas law allows cities to “ban the box”, a policy that prohibits private employers from using criminal history to weed out possible employees early in the hiring process.
The Republican-led Senate wanted to change that and unsuccessfully pushed a bill that would reverse current law.
Thursday night in a televised town hall through KXAN’s parent company, Nexstar Media Group, Inc., Abbott fully embraced “ban the box” policies.
“We want every man and woman in this state to have their own chance at the unique brand of economic prosperity that Texas offers. It doesn’t matter if you have an arrest record, we want you to have a job,” said Abbott.
Abbott explained his position after east Texas teacher Quantalane Henry asked him what the state could do to encourage businesses to hire the formerly incarcerated.
“What are we doing to lead the country in making sure those people who have already paid their debt to society will become the productive citizens they need to be?” asked Henry.
Abbott said ban the box laws help “to make sure that people are going to have that second chance to get a job.”
This comes when attitudes surrounding criminal justice are changing.
Companies oftentimes ask people to check a box if they’ve ever been in jail. Some cities have tried to curb that practice with “ban the box” ordinances.
Abbott also mentioned Brooke Rollins, a former leader of the conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation, and now a member of the Trump Administration. She is credited with pushing for “right on crime” laws that includes major reforms embraced by President Donald Trump.
“Texas has already passed multiple laws where we are the national leader in making sure that people do have second chances,” said Abbott.