Syrita Bowen News, Press

Paired With Push for Fair Chance Hiring Act, Focus on Second Chances Highlights Positive Bipartisan Engagement

(Washington, DC) – Today, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that it will officially abandon a plan that would have required people applying for a job with federal agencies to divulge participation in a diversion program. If passed, this proposal would have closed paths to employment for thousands of Americans looking for a second chance through a steady, good-paying job. 

The White House quietly withdrew the proposal for broader criminal background checks back in May, after advocates and lawmakers of both parties pushed back and objected to a measure that contradicted the Administration’s own leading message on criminal justice reform – and fed speculation that the Administration’s support for criminal justice reform was wavering. The proposal drew opposition from over 2,700 Americans during the OPM open comment period, proving that voters are watching the details closely on all official activity related to criminal justice reform.

Today’s announcement comes just weeks after the House passed the Fair Chance Act and clears pathways for fair chance hiring policies.

Key criminal justice reform advocates released the following statements in support of today’s decision:

“We’re grateful that OPM and the White House listened to the American people and turned away from a plan  that would have closed off employment opportunities for thousands of Americans,” said Holly Harris, Executive Director of the Justice Action Network (JAN). “As we move closer to election season, leaders on both sides of the aisle should listen to voters who overwhelmingly support fair chance hiring policies that remove government barriers to good jobs, and unlock second chances for those trying to turn their lives around.”

“We are thrilled to see that OPM has reconsidered its attempted move to weaken fair chance hiring practices in the federal government agencies and chosen not to require applicant disclosure of diversionary programs on OF 306,” said Jason Pye, Vice President of Legislative Affairs at FreedomWorks. “With the administration in support of second chance hiring practices and bipartisan support in Congress for codifying such practices with the Fair Chance Act, OPM and other agencies should be looking to expand, not restrict, opportunities for those with criminal backgrounds to encourage success in society.”

“Our country is facing a crisis in which far too many people – 70 million adults in the US – are locked out of jobs, simply because their record has banned them from reaching their full potential,” said Maurice Emsellem, Fair Chance Program Director at the National Employment Law Project. “The OPM’s decision aligns closely with growing bipartisan and grassroots movement that will give people a fair chance to work and thrive. We applaud the choice to reconsider these expanded background checks and encourage lawmakers to continue pushing for policies that will have real and lasting consequences for individuals.”