Reform to Strengthen Our Communities

In Sunday's (August 13) Des Moines Register, there was a story about the two Des Moines'. The article was littered with statistics about the disparity between white Des Moines and black Des Moines. 

For me, most telling was the disparity in unemployment rates. Currently in the state of Iowa, we have a historic unemployment rate of 3.9%. In the African American community, the unemployment rate currently stands at 14.8%. 

We can do better.

I have long been an advocate for criminal justice reform to improve the lives of our citizens and to strengthen our communities. 

Also recently, The Economist reported on a new study that sought to determine the reasons for this drastic disparity. 

"A recent paper by Tomaz Cajner, Tyler Radler, David Ratner and Ivan Vidangos, a group of economists at the Federal Reserve, finds that differences between races in schooling alone are not nearly large enough to account for the size of the disparity."

In supporting localized Ban the Box legislation, we can remove a barrier for people to re-enter the workforce which in turn provides employees for employers and strengthens our local communities.