KY state job applications no longer ask for criminal history

Gov. Matt Bevin (source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)
Gov. Matt Bevin (source: Dale Mader, WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Applicants for jobs in Kentucky State Government will no longer ask the applicant for his or her criminal history.

On February 1, Governor Matt Bevin has signed an executive order removing the convictions or criminal history box from state job applications.

"All else being equal, those being equal, those with checked boxes are likely to be put off to the side; the irony being that those may be the most qualified people," Gov. Bevin said.

The order doesn't affect private companies, though some like Walmart, Target and Home Depot already don't ask for criminal histories.

"It is my sincere hope that many of our employers in this state will do the same thing," Gov. Bevin said.

Michael Riser was a repeat felony offender.

"I grew up in the project in Louisville. I started using drugs at 8 years old," Riser said. "I was sucked into a cycle of addiction that took 25 years away from me. I was blessed enough to go to prison."

After prison, Riser said he'd throw applications asking about criminal records in the trash.

"I started working in the lowest paying jobs you could find," Riser said. "Minimum wage was my standard operating fee."

Bevin said Wednesday the state is seeing thousands of repeat offenders, but jobs keep people from committing crimes again.

"The reality is, this is trending in the wrong direction," Bevin said. "We're not seeing less of this. We're seeing more of it."

State officials estimate 300,000 to 400,000 people in Kentucky have criminal records. The state has the highest percentage of children with an incarcerated parent.

"This community deserves a second chance," Riser said. "It needs a second chance."

The executive order goes into effect immediately.

While the box has been removed from applications, criminal background checks are still done with interviews. The goal is to help get the person in the door and give them the opportunity to explain their past.

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