President Obama is set to announce a series of measures designed to make the process of reintegrating into society easier for former prisoners, including an executive order directing federal employers to delay inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal past until later in the application process. Currently, the question is at the end of the initial application.
Many states, cities and private employers have already taken steps to ban the checkbox asking if the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. However, some federal employers and contractors still ask. Obama’s executive order will apply to federal employers, but not to contractors.
Civil rights activists have urged Obama to propose the measure, noting that those questions can limit the ability for people with a criminal record to gain employment and get their lives back on track after prison. Advocates argue that former prisoners should be allowed to prove their qualifications for a job instead of being eliminated early on in the process due to their criminal history.
The issue has come up on the campaign trail, with all three Democratic presidential candidates pledging support for “banning the box”.
Obama will also announce other initiatives designed to improve rehabilitation and re-entry for former inmates, including education and housing grants, as well as partnerships between local municipalities and private companies that would provide jobs and training in technology.
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