The federal government will no longer ask job applicants whether they have a criminal record, under a new policy announced Monday by President Obama.
The decision to “ban the box” on federal employment applications comes as part of a broader package of criminal-justice reforms intended to help ex-prisoners stay out of prison.
The new policy also applies to federal contractors.
Obama announced the change during a visit to a substance-abuse treatment program in Newark, describing it as part of a broader effort to reintegrate ex-prisoners into society — at a time when US prisons hold 2.2 million inmates.
“There’s people who have been through tough times. They’ve made mistakes. But with a little help they can get on the right path,” Obama said at the Integrity House drug treatment center.
Under the new order, the feds can still ask about an applicant’s record but must wait until later in the interview process.
Obama said millions of Americans have problems even “getting a foot in the door” because of questions about past convictions. He said 70 million Americans have some sort of criminal record.