On May 2, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer signed a “ban the box” order applicable to state government positions but not private businesses or state contractors. Kansas agencies will no longer ask job applicants whether they have a criminal record during the initial application process. The state legislators argued that asking about criminal records on applications unfairly stigmatized individuals with records years – even decades – after their convictions and made it more difficult for individuals released from prison to be employed.

Applicants may still be asked about criminal history later in the hiring process, and applications for jobs where individuals with felonies are specifically prohibited from working will also continue inquiring about the applicant’s criminal history.

“It provides applicants with the opportunity to explain their unique facts and circumstances and what has happened to them and how their lives have changed,” Colyer said. Colyer indicated that he was in favor of expanding the “ban the box” law to private businesses, but enactment would be up to the Kansas legislature.

Currently, Kansas has no “ban the box” law, unlike thirty-one other states. Eleven of those states have required the removal of criminal history questions from job applications for private employers, and more than 150 cities and counties in the United States have a “ban the box” ordinance.