Criminal Background Checks & Second Chance Policy Roundup

Second Chance Policy Update Roundup: Changes in Housing & Employment

For several years, nationwide recognition has been growing that a criminal record has become a serious barrier to long-term employment and career growth. For many, this has amounted to a continuation of their punishment even after completing a sentence for a conviction. The result has been the growth of "fair" or "second chance" laws that delay or limit how certain groups can use criminal background checks.

This area of the law evolves constantly, and employers, landlords, and others need to stay informed of these changes. At the same time, it is also worth considering when and how hiring those with convictions can benefit a business. For now, let's tour some recent headlines to see how these initiatives continue to evolve.

California Seeks To Limit "Crime-Free" Housing Ordinances

In California, the criminal background check for housing has been in the sights of many regulators for years. A new bill under consideration in the state legislature would revoke the right of individual cities to designate certain neighborhoods as "crime-free."

These rules prohibit landlords from renting to individuals with specific convictions; some even require eviction if a landlord learns of a new arrest. Passage of the law isn't guaranteed, but it would wipe laws off the books in nearly 150 locales. Another bill under consideration would ban tenant background checks altogether. Rental history would presumably take precedence for considering suitability for renting.

Chicago Expands Fair Chance Hiring Policies

In an attempt to make the City of Chicago's employment more diverse and equitable, city leaders announced in early 2023 that they would expand the area's fair chance law even further to cover more applicants for positions with the city. Alongside delaying a criminal background check for employment, the new rules will prohibit job denials based on marijuana convictions, arrests without convictions, expunged convictions, and more. 

Manufacturers Discuss Expanding Fair Chance Opportunities

Private employers continue exploring ways to bolster their workforces through better fair chance policies. A recent industry panel among major manufacturing companies discussed how second-chance hires could significantly benefit businesses. They pointed out that such hires tend to come with a low level of risk, and they often bring essential skills to the table. The panel concluded that an inclusive policy leading to jobs with defined career pipelines could help businesses meet labor needs while supporting employment in their communities.

LinkedIn Offers New Course for Those With Convictions

Knowing where to even begin looking for a job after a conviction is very challenging for some. LinkedIn now offers a free course called "Job Seeking With a Criminal Record," and it's led by someone with firsthand experience—a formerly incarcerated individual who is now a licensed social worker. She continues to push for expanded Fair Chance laws in her home state of Tennessee, where such protections are relatively uncommon compared to the rest of the nation.

Stay Up to Date on the Latest Changes

Though criminal background checks remain an important tool and a major pillar of many hiring policies, employers need to note changing attitudes around them. Whether it's California seeking to limit the use of background checks in some circumstances altogether or businesses proactively embracing fair chance policies, there are many changes ongoing nationwide. Monitor for changes in your local area and be prepared to adapt to new regulations so you can confidently continue hiring.

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Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

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