Harris County Adopts “Ban the Box” Policy Championed by County Attorney Christian D. Menefee
Houston, Texas (January 4, 2021) – The largest county in Texas now has a “Ban the Box,” Fair Chance Policy for people applying to work in county government, giving a fairer opportunity at employment to people who have previously interacted with the criminal justice system.
Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee—who drafted and proposed the policy that was adopted by the Harris County Commissioners Court this week—stated: “There are people throughout our county who have served their time and have the skills to do good work; they just need the opportunity. This policy is about giving those folks a fair shot at working in county government and removing the stigma that comes with having a record. We want more people with jobs, more families with economic opportunity, and less folks going back to jail or prison. That is how we make our communities stronger and safer.”
The new policy permits county departments to conduct a criminal history check on an applicant, but only after the county has made a conditional offer of employment. The policy prohibits most county departments from:
- including on applications a question about an applicant's criminal history ("ban the box"),
- considering most arrests that do not result in a final conviction, and
- blanketly disqualifyingapplicants solely because of a criminal conviction (instead, the county mustconduct an individualized assessment of the applicant that allows the applicantto present information regarding the accuracy of the criminal record, the factsand circumstances of the conviction, evidence of rehabilitation, and any other mitigatingcircumstances).
In adopting the policy, Harris County joins more than 35 states and 150 local governments across the country who have adopted ban the box policies.
About the Harris County Attorney’s Office
Christian D. Menefee serves as the elected, top civil lawyer for Texas’ largest county. The Harris County Attorney’s Office represents the county in all civil matters including lawsuits. Menefee leads an office of 250 attorneys and staff members. He entered office at 32 years old, making him the youngest person and first African American elected as the Harris County Attorney.