#BanTheBox is an initiative to ban prospective employers from asking if an applicant has been convicted of a felony during the application process.
This article originally appeared at indystar.com
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced this week he will issue an executive order barring the state’s executive office from including on job applications questions concerning an applicant’s criminal background.
On Tuesday, he pledged to sign Senate Bill 312, which would preempt cities and local governments from passing their own “ban the box” and other “fair chance” hiring ordinances.
The executive order affects more than 1.12 million Hoosiers with some form of a criminal record, according to U.S. Justice Department data.
At a news conference Tuesday, Holcomb said he would sign bills ranging from abortion to marijuana extract to gun rights.
Also during the news conference, Holcomb said he would issue an executive order “banning the box” on state job applications.
“Banning the box” essentially pushes questions about criminal history to the back end of the hiring process: the job interview.
This makes Indiana the 27th state to ban the box for state employees. The move would 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.
“While I don’t believe I have the authority, or should (have the authority) to tell employers what to do about their hiring practices,” he said, “I have already reached out to the Indiana State Department of Personnel and want them to know the executive branch will be banning the box on future state employment.”
The announcement comes after the Indiana chapter of the ACLU, the NAACP and 10 other local organizations lobbied the governor this past week to veto Senate Bill 312 if an executive order for public sector employees was not issued.
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.
“This disparity cannot be explained by individual choices about committing crimes,” she recently told IndyStar.
In response, Holcomb said he would “issue an executive order in short order,” he said at the news conference.
Representatives from various civic organizations applauded Holcomb’s decision to issue the executive order.
“Gov. Holcomb’s announcement that Indiana will ‘ban the box’ for future state employees is a positive step for all Hoosiers,” said Andrew Bradley, a senior policy analyst at the Indiana Institute for Working Families.
“Ensuring fair chance hiring opportunities isn’t only necessary to move our workforce and economy to the next level, it’s the just thing to do for Hoosiers and their communities.”
Vop Osili, a member of the City-County Council, who sponsored the city’s ban the box campaign in 2013, said he thinks “it is wonderful that the governor is implementing an executive order to ban the box on state employee job applications.”
“I still can’t quite understand why our state legislature thinks it’s a bad idea for its municipalities to do that in their own jurisdictions,” he told IndyStar.
Osili said since passing the ordinance, the city has hired roughly 200 people with criminal records “who might not have found employment elsewhere.”
More than 70 million people, or nearly 1-in-3 adults, in the United States have a prior arrest or conviction record, according to the National Employment Law Project.