Governor Jay Nixon (D) has ordered that state agencies stop asking job applicants about their criminal history on their applications.

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Nixon issued an executive order telling all departments, agencies, and boards and commissions he has authority over to wait until later in the job application process to ask an applicant about his or her criminal background. The order does not apply to positions for which a criminal history would make an applicant specifically ineligible.

A statement from Nixon’s office explaining the order states, “Approximately 96 percent of the individuals who are sentenced to prison will eventually return to their communities. But formerly incarcerated individuals frequently encounter challenges in obtaining employment, which make it more difficult for them to successfully assimilate back into society.”

It said the unemployment rate for Missourians on parole last year was 44-percent.

Legislative proposals to “ban the box,” the common name for the issue, would enact similar changes in private businesses as well. A proposal sponsored by Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D) was referred to a committee in January but has not had a hearing.

Nixon said his action would, “ensure that state government continues to be a model for increasing economic opportunity, improving public safety, and strengthening communities. This is about fairness. Giving folks a fair chance to redeem their lives, support their families, and make a contribution to their communities is a value we share as Missourians and as Americans.”

“These men and women have paid their debt to society and are attempting to successfully return to their communities as productive, law-abiding citizens,” Nixon said. “By giving these Missourians a fair chance to get a job and support their families, ‘ban the box’ policies can help to break the cycle of crime and incarceration.”