- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has issued an executive order removing questions about criminal history from initial employment applications for people applying for jobs in the state’s executive branch.

Starting July 1, job applicants won’t initially be asked if they have been arrested or convicted of a crime. The exception would be if conviction of a particular crime would keep the applicant from performing the specific job.

State employment applications currently ask about criminal convictions that haven’t been expunged or sealed by a court. Applicants are also asked about pending charges on criminal arrests.

“This disclosure in an initial application can discourage qualified, skilled candidates from applying and may limit the opportunity candidates have to explain their backgrounds,” a statement from the governor’s office said.

Holcomb said the executive order gives people with a criminal record a second chance to overcome past stigma.

“While I do not believe governments should dictate employers’ hiring processes, I believe everyone deserves a second chance,” Holcomb said in a statement. “For that reason, the state agencies under my watch will provide those with a criminal record more opportunity to join the workforce.”

The state will continue to run background checks on applicants before hiring them, the statement said.

Prospective hires who are found to have a criminal past will be given a chance to explain their record, identify inaccuracies and show why they remain the best person for the position, Holcomb said.

More than 1.2 million Indiana residents have some form of a criminal record, according to data from the U.S. Justice Department.

Indiana is the 27th state to enact a fair chance hiring policy.

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