An executive order seeking to give those with a criminal record a “fair chance” when applying for a job will remove the box on a job application for state employment asking if the individual has been convicted of a felony.
On Wednesday, Gov. Matt Bevin and Kentucky Justice Cabinet Secretary John Tilley announced the executive order would give applicants who have a criminal record from years past a better chance to be considered for a job rather than the application immediately being dismissed.
The officials explained that state agencies will still be able to consider criminal history in hiring decisions but stated that removing the question and giving the applicant a chance at an interview increases the likelihood they will get a job if they are the most qualified applicant.
Gov. Bevin said he believes the initiative is fair and appropriate and wants Kentucky to be an example for the rest of the country on these issues.
The executive order only applies to state jobs and not those in the private sector as the governor said he did not believe it was appropriate to mandate that on private companies.
Bevin did, however, say he hopes the private sector will follow suit and challenged every private employer in the state to consider a similar process.
The “ban the box” initiative is already being used by many large private employers in the country with Gov. Bevin pointing to Home Depot, Walmart, and others following this process.
Michael Hiser, a Kentuckian with a former felony conviction, also spoke at the press conference applauding the executive order and stating the state can no longer set aside a part of our population and hold them back with a life sentence to poverty.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce applauded Bevin’s executive order Wednesday, noting the support of the business community on issues like felony expungement and others that help a large population of Kentuckians get a second chance and re-enter the workforce.
“With the workforce challenges Kentucky faces, this will help people not be immediately eliminated during the state hiring process because of a past mistake. Much like the passage of House Bill 40, this will not only give Kentuckians a deserved second chance, but help address our Commonwealth’s workforce needs,” Kentucky Chamber Vice President of Public Affairs Ashli Watts said Wednesday.
Watch video coverage of the press conference here: