Kansas government job applications won't ask about criminal history

Job applications for Kansas agencies will no longer ask whether someone has a criminal record, after Gov. Jeff Colyer signed an order Wednesday to “ban the box.”

The ban-the-box movement seeks to stop employers from automatically asking job applicants if they have criminal histories. Supporters say asking about criminal records on applications unfairly stigmatizes individuals with records years – even decades – after their convictions and makes it more difficult for individuals released from prison to be employed.

 

“It provides applicants with the opportunity to explain their unique facts and circumstances and what has happened to them and how their lives have changed,” Colyer said.

The executive order issued by Colyer will stop applications for executive branch jobs from asking about criminal history. Applicants may still be asked about criminal history further in the hiring process, however. Applications for jobs where individuals with felonies are prohibited from working will also continue asking about criminal history.

Kansas has no ban the box law, unlike some states. Thirty-one states have laws or policies about asking about criminal history, according to the National Employment Law Project.

A bill introduced by Rep. Gail Finney, D-Wichita, that would ban the box for state agencies was given a hearing last year, but didn't advance.

"To see this happen, to be able to represent the citizens of Kansas that have struggled for so long to take care of their families -- at the same time, I think this is going to reduce recidivism in Kansas," Finney said.

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