WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill authored by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) to give formerly incarcerated individuals a fairer shot at finding employment passed the House of Representatives today, as part of a larger package related to military defense. The bicameral legislation, the Fair Chance Act, was included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) led the companion efforts in the House.
This bipartisan bill prohibits the federal government and federal contractors from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment, while still allowing an employer to determine an individual’s criminal history before they are hired.
“Today’s passage marks an important step toward giving formally incarcerated Americans the dignity and justice they deserve to contribute to our nation,” Senator Booker said. “This legislation will remove the steep hurdles that deny individuals who have paid their debt to society from finding a job and allow them to have the dignity of work."
“I’m pleased to see support for the Fair Chance Act is growing in Congress,” Senator Johnson said. “I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to pass this legislation that will help people leaving prison get back to work and turn their lives around.”
On the Senate side, the Fair Chance Act passed out of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in February. The bill has cleared that Senate Committee each of the last three sessions of Congress. It now awaits a vote before the full Senate.
The Fair Chance Act would: