WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and U.S. Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J) released the following statements after the Fair Chance Act was unanimously approved by the committee last week. This bipartisan legislation would prohibit federal employers and contractors from asking a job applicant about his or her criminal history until the final stages of the interview process.
“The dignity of work can transform lives and help incentivize people to permanently reject a life of crime. By 'banning the box’ formerly incarcerated individuals are given a real chance to turn their lives around,” Sen. Johnson said. “The Fair Chance Act can help people gain meaningful employment, strengthen families and reduce government dependence.”
“For those with a criminal record, the barriers to getting a job, getting a loan, finding housing, and fully integrating back into society can be nearly impossible to overcome. That’s not fair, and it’s not smart: it hurts ex-offenders, their families, and the communities in which they live,” said Sen. Booker. “Our bipartisan bill follows the lead of businesses, cities, counties, and states to help give a fairer shot to qualified candidates with records who are trying to get back on their feet, provide for their families, and contribute to our economy.”
The Fair Chance Act would help formerly incarcerated individuals re-integrate into society and gain meaningful employment, while still providing employers the opportunity to learn about criminal histories prior to hiring. The bill includes important common-sense exceptions for jobs related to law enforcement and national security, jobs dealing with classified information, and other jobs requiring criminal history information.
Specifically, the Fair Chance Act would:
1) Ban the federal government from requesting criminal history information from applicants until they reach the conditional offer stage.
2) Prohibit federal contractors from requesting criminal history information from candidates for positions within the scope of federal contracts until the conditional offer stage.
3) Include important exceptions for positions related to law enforcement and national security duties, positions requiring access to classified information, and positions for which access to criminal history information is required by law.
4) Require the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in coordination with the U.S. Census Bureau, to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.