Ohio removes felony question on applications

Associated Press


“Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” will no longer be a question on Ohio’s civil-service application beginning June 1.

Ohio is voluntarily joining the “ban the box” movement and removing the yes-or-no question that’s been asked of applicants to thousands of state government positions, including highway workers, prison guards, social workers and lawyers. The move comes amid growing national concern that the checkbox about a person’s criminal history can deter offenders from seeking jobs and cause employers to miss out on qualified applicants, state officials told The Associated Press.

Human-resources officers at Ohio agencies were being briefed on the change Thursday and Friday.

Civil-service applicants in Ohio will still be asked to disclose past crimes during job interviews, and finalists for state jobs will undergo background checks, but Administrative Services Director Robert Blair said the new practice allows people to explain the circumstances surrounding their offenses.

More than 10 states and dozens of municipalities have removed the box since civil-rights groups began their push for it in the 1990s. More recently, states have begun passing legislation banning the use of the box by private-sector employers. Some business groups have pushed back, saying it could put them at risk of a potential crime.

Blair said Ohio came to the conclusion that checking “yes” on the box may have served as a quick way for agencies in the past to rule out applicants inside a state government that receives some 250,000 job applications per year.

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