All In This Together

Mayor Rawlings-Blake signs Ban the Box legislation

Originally posted in The Rawlings-Blake Review, Issue #203

This week, I signed into law an important piece of legislation “…prohibiting certain employers from conducting a criminal-record check or otherwise inquiring into an applicant’s criminal record until a conditional offer of employment has been extended.” This bill—also known as “Ban the Box”—is the right thing to do. It is a positive step forward, and it will open doors for those who have paid their debt to society and are looking to turn their lives around.

At the bill signing, we heard from Ms. Tia Lewis, a mother of three who became involved with the criminal justice system in 1995. Despite having turned her life around, her record cannot be expunged. Over the years, she has held various temporary positions and has gained extensive clerical and computer skills—but she has been unable to land a fulltime, permanent position. Tia is confident that if employers would just grant her an interview, she could show them that she possesses the skills and work ethic necessary to do the job. However, because of mistakes from her past, many employers simply dismiss her out-of-hand, refusing to even give her a chance.

Access to a good job can make the difference between a repeat offender, and a productive member of society. Stories like Tia’s break my heart, but it got me thinking about the many ways that we rely on the good will of our fellow Baltimore residents and the ways in which we are all in this together.

As a city, we are faced with many challenges that require us all to work together to identify solutions. That was the purpose of a number of workshops held this week by the Department of Recreation and Parks. Citizens, community leaders, and BCRP staff came together to discuss a collaborative vision for recreation in Baltimore. I have challenged BCRP to find a way to improve the quality of recreation in the city, and I’m glad that we have partners in every sector working together toward this goal.

This week, there were also a number of events where folks came together, taking advantage of their strength in numbers to highlight and promote worthwhile issues. Senior Fitness Day saw hundreds of Baltimore’s older residents working out and encouraging their peers to adopt healthier lifestyles. On Bike to Work Day cyclists came together from all over Baltimore to promote alternative transportation options and create a cleaner, healthier city. This year’s Community Action Day marked 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty, and celebrated the communities and Community Action Agencies that have come together to address the needs of American families who are, tragically, living in poverty. And tonight, residents and artists will come together to celebrate the closing of another successful year of the Open Walls Baltimore mural program and the beautification of Baltimore’s communities.

Among all of this, the power of teamwork and collaboration is made even more apparent in the success of my citywide tour of Public Safety Forums. Residents and City agencies are anxiously coming together to increase the partnership between police and communities. I am excited about the future, and I know that we can continue working together to make Baltimore a better, safer, stronger city.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at my website or by email at You can also follow the Mayor’s Office and be a part of the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

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