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ERIC Number: EJ1015087
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0895-6855
Ban the Box! A Role Play on Mass Incarceration
Peck, Andy
Rethinking Schools, v27 n4 p52-57 Sum 2013
During a discussion with a panel of speakers from All of Us or None, an organization fighting for the rights of people who have been imprisoned, nearly every student in Andy Peck's senior economics class at Berkeley High School in California spoke of family members or friends who were currently locked up or formerly incarcerated, back on their feet, or struggling. As the speakers from All of Us or None shared their stories, they took the shame out of acknowledging an issue of increasing significance in students' lives and in the whole social and political landscape: mass incarceration. The meeting with All of Us or None was part of a unit Peck created with "Rethinking Schools" Managing Editor Jody Sokolower prompted by a reading of Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." According to Alexander, mass incarceration, justified and organized around the war on drugs, has become the new face of racial discrimination in the United States. All of Us or None is leading efforts to "ban the box" at various levels of government hiring. "The box" is the space on employment applications that asks "have you ever been convicted of a felony?" Research shows that employers who see the box checked either discard those applications automatically or are so influenced by the information it amounts to legal discrimination. All of Us or None wants to free formerly incarcerated people from the necessity of disclosing felony convictions until their job qualifications have been evaluated. A role play of this scenario became the centerpiece for Peck and Sokolower's unit. Five roles for student groups were identified with background information handouts for each. The five groups included: (1) Formerly incarcerated people; (2) criminal justice activists; (3) neighborhood associations; (4) employers and business leaders; and (5) law enforcement officials. During the course of the unit, the California Assembly was considering a statewide "ban the box" bill (AB 1831) that would affect public, but not private, employers. After students completed the role play, they were asked to write formal letters to their local representatives explaining their perspective on the proposed law. (Contains 5 resources.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A