Can poverty be eradicated? Chris Curtis on the enduring challenge

Christopher Curtis has dedicated his life to eradicating poverty. Though he has never held elected office, Curtis, staff attorney at Vermont Legal Aid and co-chair of the Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty, has been the force behind many key policy changes made on behalf of low-income Vermonters.He discusses the final report of the Governor’s Council, growing up as the adopted son of parents who later divorced and both came out as gay, and why he keeps fighting for the poor. Whitney Nichols joins the conversation to talk about his experience being homeless in Vermont and his work with Curtis on the Governor’s Poverty Council. (Dec. 14, 2016 broadcast)

Christopher Curtis, staff attorney, Vermont Legal Aid, co-chair, Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty

Whitney Nichols, consumer advocate, member of Governor’s Council

Ban the Box: Helping ex-prisoners

“Ban the Box” refers to the policy of removing the conviction history check-box from job applications. If employers must ask about convictions, they can ask later in the hiring process. The call to “ban the box” has become a powerful movement for fair hiring.

Today, over 100 cities and counties have adopted “ban the box” and a total of 19 states representing nearly every region of the country that have adopted the policies

Last April, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed an Executive Order to implement a ‘ban the box’ state hiring policy. Vt’s ‘ban the box’ Executive Order removes questions about criminal records from the very first part of job applications for state employment. Agencies will continue to conduct background checks, but only after an applicant has otherwise been found qualified for the position. The policy will prevent applicants from being immediately screened out of state jobs because of a criminal conviction. The policy will not apply to law enforcement, corrections, or other sensitive positions.

We talk about the effort to get all Vermont employers to ban the box with:

Russ Bennett, from NorthLand Design & Construction, chair of the VBSR Public Policy Committee

Chris Curtis, staff attorney, Vermont Legal Aid

Manuel La Fontaine, who was formerly incarcerated, and now works to ban the box nationally with the group All of Us or None.