Bevin order gives those with criminal records a better shot at s - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bevin order gives those with criminal records a better shot at state jobs

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Gov. Matt Bevin signs Fair Chance Employment Initiative Gov. Matt Bevin signs Fair Chance Employment Initiative
The old job application form asked about convictions The old job application form asked about convictions

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Matt Bevin has signed an executive order that gives people with criminal records a better shot at landing a state job.

Bevin calls it the Fair Chance Employment Initiative and, with the stroke of a pen, he opened new opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians who have spent time behind bars.

His order removes part of the state job application form that asks about a criminal record.

It's called “banning the box.”

The order does not prevent potential state employers from asking about a past criminal record, or a background check from discovering it.

“It simply does not put it front and center, and make it a reason to eliminate somebody who hasn't even had a chance to make the case for why they're the best person for the job,” said Bevin.

The National Employment Law Project estimates nearly 70 million people in the United States have a criminal record of some type.

Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley says employment is a key factor in keeping people from going back to prison.

“When ex-offenders are able to find stable jobs, they are able to support their families and find new purpose for their lives,” said Tilley. “Studies show that removing that box and giving a person a chance at an interview increases the likelihood they will get a job.”

The order applies only to state jobs and not the private sector, but Bevin challenged employers to follow his lead.

“Let us do what we can to restore the opportunity, level the playing field, and create new chances for people who have made mistakes,” he said.

Michael Hiser is a marriage and family therapist who served time on drug and theft charges years ago.

He believes the governor's action will make it easier for others to get a fresh start.

“We want to have an easy path for someone who used to be this way to change their life. We don't want to make it harder for them to change their life. That seems counterproductive,” Hiser told WDRB.

Hiser says Bevin's order, along with a felony expungement law passed last year are good starts.

But he's also pushing to restore voting rights for felons.

Bevin says he's supports that, but it requires changing the constitution.

“The people of Kentucky will decide that, not me,” said Bevin.

Kentucky joins 24 other states and several cities, including Louisville, that have already “banned the box.”

Bevin's order takes effect immediately.

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