In 1998, Hawaii was the first state to Ban the Box. Since then, 33 states and more than 150 municipalities have also banned the box. The state of Florida has not banned the box but many municipalities within the state have legislation enacted to Ban the Box including Tampa, Orlando, Gainesville, Jacksonville, and Sarasota.

And, as of February 1, 2021, Hire Image can report that the city of Lakeland, Florida has joined its sister cities in banning the box. Employers are now required to remove questions about prior criminal records of job applicants from employment applications. According to the city, “the questions about criminal history will be removed from the City’s initial hiring process and potential job candidates that may have a criminal offense in their background will not be judged at the time of submitting their application.”

The city went on to acknowledge the pros and cons of Ban the Box legislation. On the pro side, the applicant pool will increase and will give a second chance to people who have rightfully paid their dues to society. The con side will be mitigated with background checks. What Ban the Box does is give past offenders a clear, better, and equitable opportunity.

City Manager Shawn Sherrouse said, “As far as I know, Lakeland will be the first City in Polk County to initiate this type of process that will eliminate a job applicant from checking a box in regard to admitting a previous criminal conviction, and this will provide opportunities for truly reformed individuals to serve our public.”