On November 6, 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an Executive Order (EO) implementing a “ban-the-box” initiative for applicants of employment with the State. Ban-the-box initiatives eliminate questions about a prospective employee’s criminal convictions and history on job applications. These initiatives have been gaining steam across the U.S. and, more recently, Arizona. The State of Arizona now joins several Arizona municipalities, including Tucson, Flagstaff, and the City of Phoenix, which have also adopted similar policies in some form for public employment.
The idea behind ban-the-box is simple enough: individuals with criminal records should not be disenfranchised from employment opportunities simply because of their criminal history. Proponents of these measures are quick to note that, apart from fundamental unfairness, lack of employment is directly linked to incarceration recidivism.
Governor Ducey’s Order comes with important limitations. For instance, the Executive Order does not address private employers in Arizona. Additionally, while state agencies cannot ask whether an applicant has a criminal record at the outset, they are permitted to inquire into the applicant’s criminal record at later stages in the hiring process. The full text of the Governor’s Order is available here.