By Howard Fischer
Arizona is joining more than two dozen other states in giving convicted felons a foot in the door for employment.
In an executive order Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey directed state personnel officials to “ban the box,” eliminating any questions on initial job applications about whether a person has a criminal record.
None of that keeps the question from coming up. But the concept, according to the governor, is to ensure that people are not eliminated from even being considered.
“This is to allow people that have paid their debt to society, who have served their time, to have some hope of a job or a career or an opportunity,” Ducey said.
The idea is not new. The National Employment Law Project reports 29 states already have similar laws or policies in place.
The group also says nine states have eliminated the question for private employers, something the governor’s executive order does not do.
Several Arizona cities, including Tucson, Tempe and Phoenix, have similar policies.
But Ducey, who has pushed for programs for years to reduce recidivism, has put something else into the new plan: Money for transportation.
Under a deal with Uber, the ride-sharing company will put up $5,000 to help people get to their job sites if public transit is not available, whether because of geography or simply the time of day. That is contingent on a dollar-for-dollar match from the state, which the Governor’s Office said will be come from existing funds within the Department of Corrections.
Ducey said the change in applications for jobs in state government is designed to ensure at least some ex-inmates get a chance to make their case to state agencies that they’re good employment prospects.