Georgia will no longer require job applicants to disclose their criminal histories on employment forms..

Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order that applies only to those seeking work with state agencies, reported the Washington Post. It would prohibit those agencies from using a prior criminal history as an automatic disqualifier for job applicants. Those applicants will have the opportunity to discuss their criminal records in person, the Post says. 

The policy is known as “ban the box,” a reference to employment forms that ask about prior criminal convictions. Georgia is the 14th state to adopt the policy, along with states as diverse as Nebraska, New Mexico, California and Hawaii. Nationally, nearly 100 cities, including Washington, D.C., have adopted the same policy, according to the Post report. 

“Every “ban the box” state has applied the policy to state hiring. Six — Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and New Jersey — ban questions about prior convictions on job applications for private employment,” according to the Post report.

” ‘Ban the box’ is a policy intended to improve public safety, enhance workforce development, and provide increased state employment opportunities for applicants with criminal convictions on their records by removing the criminal history related questions from the initial stage of the state employment application process,” Deal’s office wrote in the executive order. “Such policies allow returning citizens an opportunity to explain their unique circumstances in person to a potential employer.”

“Not every state employee will be free from questions about past criminal histories. The executive order exempts what it calls “sensitive governmental positions,” like security officers or prison guards, for which a criminal history would be immediately disqualifying,” according to the Post report. 

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