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Governor Bars State From Asking Job Applicants About Felony Records

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(CBS) — Illinoisans with a felony on their records will no longer be asked about their criminal past when they apply for state jobs.

Promoting the decision to what he calls “Ban the Box,” State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago) says the governor’s administrative order doesn’t mean private employers will be required to hire ex-cons. It simply means applications for state government jobs will no longer include a box indicating whether an applicant has pled guilty, or been convicted of a criminal offense, other than a minor traffic violation.

State agencies would still be allowed to conduct background checks, and request information on criminal convictions, but not until later in the process.

“I think that it’s important that employers hire the best qualified person that they feel comfortable with for the job,” Ford says. “Employers in private (business) or state agencies should never hire a person that appears to not be a fit for the job.”

Ford gives an example of someone he knows who would benefit: a retiree who had a pocket knife in his pocket 50 years ago. As for the really bad guys, Ford says they’re unlikely to apply for a legitimate job anyway.

As for himself, the lawmaker says he anticipates federal bank fraud charges against him –- unrelated to his service in the General Assembly -– being tossed out of court soon.

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