Wisconsin removed criminal records inquiries from initial state job applications. Unfortunately, that ban-the-box provision is part of a new law that also dismantles Wisconsin’s civil service system. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issued an executive order on February 24th to remove questions about criminal histories from state job applications and also voiced support for criminal justice reform legislation.
Birmingham became the first city in Alabama to remove criminal records inquiries from city job applications, a change that was applauded by a U.S. Attorney and Department of Labor representative. Other recent progress includes new policies in Asheville, North Carolinaand Blacksburg, Virginia. NELP’s state and local guide contains a list of states and localities that have banned the box or adopted fair-chance laws.
Foundations Take the Lead on Fair-Chance Employment
The Executives’ Alliance, a national philanthropic alliance, announced that over 40 foundations have pledged to remove criminal records inquiries from their job applications and adopt fair-chance hiring policies. NELP applauds these efforts and will be advising on best practices.
Ban-the-Box Policies Across the Pond
United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to remove criminal records inquiries from applications for U.K. civil service jobs. He also voiced support for improving prison education programs.
State Ban-the-Box Efforts Well Underway in 2016
State advocates continue to push for changes to hiring policies. Fair-chance hiring bills applicable to private employers are under consideration in Vermont (H.261) and Connecticut (HB 5237), and is anticipated this term in Colorado. A private employer bill (SF 84) recently advanced out of the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bills to remove criminal records inquiries from applications for jobs with public employers have been introduced in Utah (HB 388), Missouri (SB 724), and Tennessee (SB 2440, HB 2442)—the last of which was recently approved by the Senate State Committee. Advocates in South Dakotaalso hope to propose and advance legislation this year.
Workers Filed Complaints Under D.C. Fair Chance Hiring Law
District of Columbia residents submitted hundreds of complaints for violations of D.C.’s Fair Criminal Record Screening Amendment Act during its first full year in effect. Those numbers are likely the result of D.C.’s innovative outreach and enforcement design, as NELP explained in apolicy brief analyzing the D.C. law’s implementation.
FEDERALBill to Lessen Collateral Consequences Related to Student Financial Aid
U.S. senators recently introduced the Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success Act (“SUCCESS Act”) (S. 2557), which would ease access to federal student financial aid by removing questions about drug convictions from the FAFSA form and repealing language barring those convicted of drug offenses from receiving financial aid. An almost identical House bill (H.R. 4004) was introduced in November.
STATESPennsylvania Expands Criminal Records Sealing
Governor Tom Wolf signed into law a bill (SB 166) that will allow Pennsylvania residents to seal certain misdemeanor convictions if they satisfy enumerated criteria. The governor also launched a review of Pennsylvania’s “broken” criminal justice system.
Georgia Council Recommends Removing Barriers to Reentry
In its recent annual report, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform recommended removing criminal records inquiries from occupational license applications. The council also recommended lifting lifetime bans on food stamps for those who have been convicted of a drug felony.
Illinois Commission Recommends Occupational Licensing Reform
In its first report, the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform recommended occupational licensing reform. Advocates argue that eliminating barriers to licensure would open doors to jobs and reduce recidivism.
Kansas Bill to Limit Consideration of Records by Occupational Licensing Boards
The recently introduced House Bill 2677 would limit the ability of Kansas licensing boards to deny licenses based on applicants’ past arrests and minor infractions as well as convictions not directly related to the occupation.
RESEARCH“Jobs After Jail” Report Addresses Legal Barriers to Employment
A new report by Alliance for a Just Society explores the direct and indirect legal barriers to employment faced by the almost 70 million U.S. adults with conviction records.
MEDIAImpact of Mass Incarceration on Unemployment Statistics
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog addressed how mass incarceration distorts employment statistics, including by eliminating many young black men from unemployment numbers.