by Edmond Geary
Governor Mary Fallin has by executive order eliminated the necessity for applicants for state jobs to disclose whether they have a felony conviction. State agencies will no longer require this information on the application. Nineteen other states have preceded Oklahoma in this regard.
This should open some jobs to a pool of Oklahomans who have trouble getting a job, a pool that numbers, by some estimates, one convicted felon for every twelve Oklahomans. Everyone knows employers do not favor hiring anyone with a felony conviction.
The convictions are still discoverable by state agencies as by any other employer by accessing online the website OSCN. net. Convictions incurred in Oklahoma, at least, are listed there, searchable by name. It is very easy to search, provided the correct spelling of the person’s name is entered. This same information is provided if a background check is purchased, except the background check can search other states as well.
Those convicted of a felony will still be competing for jobs against applicants without conviction. State agencies can still ask about any convictions in the interview process. Neither does it prevent a background check. Nevertheless, an applicant can get further along into the employment process, tout his personal positives and explain the circumstances of his conviction. The applicant will not be disqualified out of hand.
There are some state jobs that prohibit employing convicted felons. For the rest, it will depend on the job and on the applicant. For example, an applicant for a manual labor job or technical expertise, a felony conviction for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol incurred seven years ago ought not to disqualify the applicant.
This is a step in the right direction. State employers can disqualify any applicant if they judge it appropriate, but the felony conviction is not an automatic disqualifier. The concept that anyone convicted of a felony should ‘pay for his crime” has collided with the reality that making convicted felons unemployable inevitably drives them to crime.