Indiana is moving towards a trend where a person's past may not dictate their future.
This appeared at indystar.com
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued an executive order to exclude criminal history from executive branch employment job applications on Thursday.
Starting July 1, initial employment applications for job openings within the executive branch will no longer ask applicants if they have been arrested or convicted of a crime, unless a conviction of a particular crime precludes that individual from employment in that specific job, according to Holcomb’s order.
The executive order affects more than 1.12 million Hoosiers with some form of a criminal record, according to U.S. Justice Department data.
More than 70 million people in the United States have a prior arrest or conviction record, or nearly 1 in 3 adults, according to the National Employment Law Project
“This executive order will give Hoosiers with criminal records a second chance by helping them overcome the stigma of their past and live productive lives,” Holcomb said.
“We are giving those with criminal records more opportunity to seek public service as a state employee.”
Holcomb made good on his promise after pledging to issue an order on fair chance hiring in April.
Currently, state employment applications ask about criminal convictions that have not been expunged or sealed by a court, and about criminal arrests in which charges are still pending.
According to a news release issued by the governor’s office, the state will continue to conduct background checks on applicants before hiring them.
“Where state law specifically prohibits employment based on certain convictions or pending charges, applicants will be asked about their criminal records (example: application for a family case manager position with the Indiana Department of Child Services),” the news release states.
The order makes Indiana the 27th state to “ban the box” for state employees. The move would only apply to public sector employees.
Indianapolis is among the cities and counties nationally that already do not ask about candidates previous criminal activities in the initial job application process.
SB 312, which was signed into law, prohibits the state and municipalities from enacting “ban the box” laws and ordinances. The groups agreed that the bill would make it difficult for former inmates to become gainfully employed.
Barbara Bolling-Williams, president of the NAACP Indiana chapter, said criminal justice disparities are exacerbated by challenges that African Americans face in employment.
Andrew Bradley, a policy analyst with the Indiana Institute for Working Families, said he applauds Holcomb’s executive order.
“While Indiana has earned the dubious distinction of being the first state to preempt cities from enacting their own fair chance hiring laws,” Bradley said, “it’s encouraging that Gov. Holcomb heeded calls to not sign the bill without also pledging to ‘Ban the Box’ for state jobs.
“We encourage further public-private partnerships that encourage a ‘fair chance’ for all Hoosiers to earn family-sustaining income.”