Assembly passes bill to eliminate check box on applicant's criminal past

Assembly passes bill to eliminate check box on applicant's criminal past (WRGB)

ALBANY, NY (WRGB) -- A push to get ex-cons back into careers is gaining steam.

Leaders in Albany County voted Monday to ban county employers from asking about criminal histories until after an applicant is offered a job.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy ordered the box off the applications last year.

"Some people unfortunately have tripped in their life, and they're trying to pay their debt back to society, but move forward. How can they do that if we keep holding that over their heads the rest of their lives,” McCoy said.

Convicted felons like Kevin Jenkins, 51, are hopeful the rule will land him a decent job.

"I want [employers] to see the kind of person that I am now, instead of [seeing] the felony and assuming what kind of person I am."

The push could go statewide.

Lawmakers in the New York State Assembly voted for similar push for every employer across the state.

Critics are worried what this move could mean for co-workers and for businesses.

"If you're a small business owner, and you have one or two or three employees, you really need to know who you're hiring and who's representing your business out there on a day to day basis,” said Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin.

New York State already has some protections on the books, preventing discrimination based on criminal history.

There are also a number of restrictions. Many specialized jobs like law enforcement and nursing homes, for example, still need background checks.

The local law now goes to the County Executive for his signature. The state bill is now in the hands of the Senate.

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