OKLAHOMA CITY – They are several questions posed on most job applications, including past positions, references and whether or not the applicant has previous felony convictions. Inquiring about certain aspects of the applicant's criminal history could soon change, though.
Governor Mary Fallin signed an executive order this week to expunge inquiries on applications about past felony convictions that are non-violent, such as criminal justice, corrections, mental health, substance abuse and re-entry services.
The official document states, “I [Fallin] … hereby direct and order all state agencies to remove from job applications, questions regarding convictions and criminal history, unless a felony conviction would automatically render an applicant not qualified.”
The document goes on to say that this motion does not hinder employers from inquiring about past felony convictions during the interview process. It also says it does not prohibit employers from seeking background checks for prospective employees. Lastly, it will not affect applications for “sensitive” government positions.
“Employment after a felony conviction is always a challenge, but the ability to gain employment is a critical and necessary component in reducing recidivism and for those individuals to lead productive and successful lives,” said Fallin. “Thus, we should remove unnecessary barriers to employment opportunities for Oklahomans with felony convictions.
The purpose of the action, as per the document, is to give job applicants the initial opportunity for employment consideration without the “stigma of their record.”
“The Governor's action to remove the “convicted felony” question from applications for state jobs sends a powerful message that Oklahoma believes in second chances,” said Kris Steele, chair of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.
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