Kentucky Governor moves to "ban the box"
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- With the stroke of a pen, Governor Matt Bevin officially made “ban the box” a reality in Kentucky.
“Ban the box” is a phrase often used with an effort to remove a requirement on job applications where a convicted felon is required to check a box designating that they have a criminal history.
Governor Bevin’s Executive Order was to become official at the time of this signature and only impacts state applications although Mr. Bevin encouraged private employers to voluntarily adopt the policy.
Banning the box is a first hurdle for those looking to restart their life after a conviction.
Michael Hisner has long fought for criminal justice reform. Hisner is a family therapist in Bullitt County but spent time in prison years ago.
During a news conference Thursday with Governor Bevin, Hisner described first trying drugs at age eight which lead to a life of criminal activity. While trying to work his way through school he often saw job applications with boxes which convicted felons were required to check.
“There was a lot of times that I just threw that in the trash and got a part-time job cleaning what I could clean until I could get in somewhere else,” Hisner explained.
He said that box is too hard for some employers to overlook. He blames that roadblock for slowing the growth of millions of others who deserve a second chance.
The "Fair Chance" Act signed by Governor Matt Bevin focuses only on state job applicants but it moves forward the "ban the box" movement pushing for criminal justice reforms.
"Will this help and 100 percent recidivism go away? No, of course not,” said Hisner. “But if 10 percent goes away then we've not only saved Kentucky millions of dollars but we've saved millions of people and families."
During the signing of his executive order, Governor Bevin stressed that this does not remove background checks, rather it gives candidates a fair shot from the start and a chance to explain anything found during a background check if it’s brought up during an interview.
It's a strategy he apparently has practiced since becoming governor.
"Starting today, if someone comes in and applies, this will immediately be in effect,” said Governor Bevin. “So, there are jobs, we've actually already hired people who have prior felony convictions, some of them on my immediate team and so that's something that has been the case already it's now easier for folks like that to get a fair shake”.
"Starting today, if someone comes in and applies, this will immediately in effect. So, there are jobs, we've actually already hired people who have prior felony convictions, some of them on my immediate team, and so that's something that has been the case already it's now easier for folks like that to get a fair shake.”