On November 2, the President issued an executive order announcing a series of steps to encourage reentry and rehabilitation of individuals who have recently been released from prison. Among other things, the order establishes a National Clean Slate Clearinghouse, and authorizes technical assistance to legal aid programs and public defender offices “to build capacity for legal services needed to help with record-cleaning, expungement, and related civil legal services.”
According to an article in the New York Times, the measures
are all relatively modest in scale, important to the president less for their individual effect than for the direction they keep the country moving. Collectively, they reflect a belief that former inmates should have greater leeway to apply for jobs and housing without disclosing criminal records that would hinder their chances.
The order also calls on Congress to establish a ban-the-box program for federal employers and contractors. In the interim, it asks the Office of Personnel Management to “take action where it can by modifying its rules to delay inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process.” Presumably this means at a minimum that OPM should eliminate the criminal history question on its “Declaration for Federal Employment” form. However, the order stops well short of recommending the more progressive steps proposed in a National Employment law Project report issued last January, including the revision of the federal “suitability” regulations to comply fully with the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
We will shortly take a closer look at this new federal initiative to blunt the impact of collateral consequences. For now, we post the text of the entire order. Read more