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"Ban the Box" comes to Michigan

A simple question is being removed from many job applications across Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder announced the state will no longer ask job applicants and people seeking certain occupational licenses to check a box if they have been convicted of a felony. Michigan will soon join nearly three dozen other states and more than 100 cities and counties across the country in what's commonly referred to as "Ban the Box." Supporters say the goal is to consider a candidate's qualifications first. "They had to disclose they were an ex-offender," said Capital Area Michigan Works CEO Edythe Hatter-Williams. "They were immediately set aside because companies did not want to deal with them or maybe in some instances they couldn't because of insurance liabilities." Michigan Works helps connect people looking for work get jobs. "We certainly tell offenders, it's always good to give that information because most employers today do background checks. They're going to check the systems you know to make sure that record comes back clean." Because of that, not all convicted felons will benefit. Hatter-Williams said one such career, like for school and school-related jobs, could be affected, depending on what crime was committed. Overall, she admits it's a move in the right direction. "Give these people a chance that have done the times for their crimes that they've committed and are now coming out and seeking employment," she said. Gov. Snyder is encouraging private employers to follow suit. The move is expected to begin Oct. 1. The question will remain on applications where state law does not allow former felons from being licensed, like in healthcare.