Banning the box

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Opportunities for Illinoisans with criminal backgrounds seeking jobs with state agencies may be improving. Gov. Pat Quinn, earlier this month, signed an administrative order instructing all state agencies to remove the question, asking whether a person has been convicted of a crime, from state employment applications.

The administrative order stems from legislation sponsored by Oak Park state Rep. LaShawn Ford (8th) in 2007. The so-called "ban the box" bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly, but then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich refused to sign it into law.

The signed order by Quinn only affects state agencies and not private businesses. State agencies still will do background checks, but having that occur at the end of the process allows employers to hire individuals based on the interview, qualifications, resume and character references, and not whether a box is checked or not, said Ford. While the administrative order affects state agencies only, Ford hopes the measure will become the law of the land. He noted, however, that this measure can be rescinded if a new governor takes office.

"I don't see why anyone would rescind this, but what we would do is modify the language at a later date," Ford told Wednesday Journal.


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