27 Senators Urge President Obama to Adopt Federal “Fair Chance” Hiring Policy

Twenty-seven U.S. senators today sent a joint letter to President Obama urging executive action on a federal “fair chance” hiring policy to expand federal agency and contractor job opportunities for people with past convictions.

“Our nation’s legal and moral underpinnings provide that anyone who makes a mistake and learns from it deserves a second chance,” wrote the senators, noting that the inability to find work is a leading cause of recidivism.

The letter urges the administration to require that federal agencies and contractors refrain from asking job applicants about prior convictions until later in the hiring process, so that applicants can be judged “based on their current merits rather than past wrong-doings.”

The effort was led by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and many other prominent senators.

A federal fair-chance hiring policy would have far-reaching impact, as nearly one in four U.S. workers is employed by a federal contractor, a subcontractor, or the federal government.

Sixteen states and more than 100 cities and counties have adopted “fair chance” hiring policies. Many of the nation’s largest private employers, including Walmart, Home Depot, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and most recently, Koch Industries, have voluntarily adopted such policies.

“The American public is demanding action on criminal justice reform; fair-chance hiring is a critical piece of it. Bipartisan support for fair-chance hiring has never been stronger, so now’s the time for the president to act,” said NELP’s executive director, Christine Owens.

For more NELP resources about ban-the-box and the federal fair-chance hiring initiative, please see our campaign page and these documents also:

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