First Chance Act Proposes Hiring Reform for Individuals with Criminal Records

A bipartisan group of representatives is working to “ban the box” --specifically the box federal job applicants check that discloses their criminal record. As a follow up to the First Step Act, the First Chance Act would delay disclosure of a criminal record until a conditional offer of employment is given.

Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Representative Doug Collins (R-GA), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced the legislation together to show unified, bipartisan support for the reform.

According to a joint press release, this legislation would exclude law enforcement and national security positions that require access to classified information; however, it would include all other executive, legislative, and judicial branch employees and federal contractors.

These groups would no longer be allowed to ask about criminal history until necessary for employment. Legislators describe the goal as to remove initial stigma from the application process.

The legislation would also require the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in coordination with the U.S. Census Bureau, to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.

The release explains that 33 states and 150 counties or cities already have rules that make it easier for formerly incarcerated individuals to obtain a job.

Ranking Member Collins noted that following the bipartisan passage of the First Step Act, which allowed for the early release of low level federal offenders, this legislation would continue the bipartisan effort to reduce recidivism rates and help integrate former incarnated individuals back into the workforce.

According to the release, “Studies show that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent for men in general.  African-American men with criminal records have been 60 percent less likely to receive a callback or job offer than those without records.  For individuals trying to turn the page on a difficult chapter in their lives, criminal convictions pose a substantial barrier to employment.”

Posted in From the Hill



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