Holcomb removes criminal record question from state job application

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The state of Indiana will stop asking executive branch job candidates if they have a criminal history on initial employment applications starting Saturday.

Gov. Eric Holcomb made the change by issuing an executive order Thursday.

“This executive order will give Hoosiers with criminal records a second chance by helping them overcome the stigma of their past and live productive lives,” Holcomb said in a written statement. “We are giving those with criminal records more opportunity to seek public service as a state employee.”

In a press release, the governor’s office said the disclosure of a criminal history can discourage qualified, skilled candidates from applying and can limit the chances applicants have to explain their criminal history.

Background checks will still be conducted by the state before the hiring process is completed.

Applicants for state jobs that are required by law to prohibit employment based on certain convictions or pending charges will still be asked about their criminal records. For example, an application for a family case manager position with the Indiana Department of Child Services will still ask about criminal histories.

Thursday’s executive order comes after Holcomb signed a bill into law that would prohibit local governments from banning employers from making any inquiry about the applicants' past criminal record when they initially apply.  Additionally, the bill signed in April would protect employers who hire employees with a criminal record as long as the crime isn’t directly related to the work they provide for the employer.

“While I do not believe governments should dictate employers’ hiring processes, I believe everyone deserves a second chance,” Holcomb said Thursday.

In April, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana had urged the governor to veto the bill. The organization argued it was unfair to allow convictions to prevent employment long after the date of the conviction and that local governments should have the right to ban that business practice.

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