For the many Texans concerned that outdated criminal justice laws are endangering public safety and ruining people’s lives, it’s heartening that Congress has indicated it hopes to take up the issue. But it remains unclear whether any legislation will make it to the president’s desk.

That’s why the roughly 383,000 employers who call Texas home should consider taking action themselves.

Businesses have a powerful role to play in giving individuals with criminal records a second chance. The easiest step they can take is to “ban the box.”

Right now, most employers require job seekers to check a box on an application indicating whether they have a criminal record. Too often, this can function as an automatic “application denied” for individuals who have any blemish in their past.

Nationwide, some 650,000 incarcerated individuals rejoin society every year, and they desperately need jobs to help them transition back into society and provide for themselves and their families. But the criminal record box often shuts them out of the job market before they can get a foot in the door. A 2009 study by Harvard and Princeton researchers showed individuals who checked the box reduced their chances of a callback by 50 percent, with blacks hurt twice as much as whites.