Center for American Progress

STATEMENT: CAP’s Neera Tanden on President Obama’s Criminal Justice Executive Actions
Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP’s Neera Tanden on President Obama’s Criminal Justice Executive Actions

Washington, D.C. — President Barack Obama announced on Monday that the Office of Personnel Management would “ban the box,” eliminating the requirement that federal job applicants check a box on their applications indicating if they have a criminal record. This measure would give qualified jobseekers with criminal records a fair shot at federal jobs. The president also announced guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, to public housing authorities and owners of HUD-assisted housing regarding the use of arrests in determining who can live in HUD-assisted properties and clarifying the agency’s so-called one strike rule. Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response:

We commend President Obama for taking these important steps to enable Americans with criminal records to have a second chance. Having even a minor criminal record can present lifelong barriers to the basic building blocks of economic security and mobility—most notably employment and housing. This has broad implications—not only for the individuals who are prevented from moving on with their lives and who find themselves unjustly shut out of the labor market, but also for their families, communities, and our national economy. By giving qualified American jobseekers a fair shot at federal jobs, the president’s fair-chance hiring executive order will ensure that the federal government is a model employer. And, by reforming the overly harsh and discriminatory “one strike and you’re out” policy in public housing and offering guidance on the use of arrest records in considering who can live in HUD-assisted public housing, the president’s housing guidance will make it possible for individuals with criminal records to rejoin their families in public housing. These measures have the potential to make a sizable dent in the nation’s poverty rate, keep families together, boost labor force participation, and save taxpayer dollars in the form of reduced incarceration costs—all while increasing public safety.

In a recent report from the Center for American Progress, “One Strike and You’re Out,” Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich address how mass incarceration and criminal records serve as underappreciated drivers of poverty and inequality in America by presenting barriers to employment, housing, education and training, building good credit, and more. The report offers a roadmap of policy recommendations—including an executive order like the one released by President Obama today—to ensure that Americans with criminal records have a fair shot at making a decent living, providing for their families, and joining the middle class.

For more information or to speak to an expert, please contact Tanya S. Arditi at [email protected] or 202.741.6258.

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