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Office of Equity and Human Rights

Realizing Equity. Enhancing the City of Portland.

Phone: 503-823-4433

Fax: 503-823-4420

421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204

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City of Portland removes employment application barriers for people with criminal records

July 9, 2014

PORTLAND – The City of Portland has removed language from its employment applications that states applicants may be required to sign a criminal history statement. Questions about criminal background, if relevant to a position, would be asked later in the hiring process.

The statements formerly included on City applications created a barrier for ex-offenders, giving many the perception that a criminal history could prevent them from gaining government employment with the City of Portland.

“This is a win-win,” said Mayor Charlie Hales. “This removes a barrier to employment with the City, which will attract a more diverse pool of applicants to City jobs—one step in addressing the collective impact of crime. Stable employment significantly reduces recidivism rates, building stability and breaking the cycle of incarceration for people trying to get back on their feet.” 

The City joins more than 60 U.S. jurisdictions, including Multnomah County, in removing the barrier to employment for formerly incarcerated people. The nationwide campaign to remove these types of barriers is commonly called, “Ban the Box,” which refers to the question on employment applications that asks whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime or been incarcerated.

“We can credit this policy change to the Governing for Racial Equity Conference that our office hosted in March,” said Dante James, Office of Equity and Human Rights Bureau Director. “After attending the conference, City Human Resources leaders took to heart the chilling outcome that these types of questions can have on former offenders during the job application process.” 

Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights provides education and technical support to City staff and elected officials, leading to recognition and removal of systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access, and opportunity; starting with issues of race and disability.

For more information, please contact Jeff Selby at jeff.selby@portlandoregon.gov.

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