City Government and Crime and Local Government and City-County Council and Government & Economic Development and Government

City-County Council approves 'ban the box' proposal

February 25, 2014

The Indianapolis City-County Council passed an ordinance Monday night that bans the city and its contractors from asking job applicants about past criminal convictions.

The council voted 26-2 in favor of the ordinance, which likely will be signed by Mayor Greg Ballard, who has expressed support for the "ban-the-box" concept in the past. Republican councilors Aaron Freeman and Jason Holliday voted against the measure.

The ordinance says city and county agencies and their contractors cannot ask about prior convictions on job applications or in first-round interviews, unless the applicant offers the information voluntarily.

The new ordinance governs the hiring practices of the city and its contractors. Sponsor Vop Osili, a Democrat, had hoped it also would apply to any company receiving economic development incentives, but that language was removed from the final version.

The local rule would not affect background checks required by state or federal law or the hiring processes established by trade unions.

The city already has a history of hiring people with convictions. Helping people overcome their criminal past is a priority for Ballard, who established the Office of Re-entry.

Many companies and cities across the company have been rethinking their policies regarding hiring ex-offenders. The population of former inmates has swelled, in part because U.S. incarceration rates more than tripled from the mid-1980s to 2010. About one in 35 adults was imprisoned at the state, federal, or local level or was on probation or parole in 2012, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

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