People in New Mexico who have a drug felony on their record might not have to give this information to potential employers, according to an article in High Times. A decision was unanimously approved by the Public Affairs Committee, eliminating the part of a job application that asks if you have ever been charged with a felony. The Criminal Offender Employment Act also makes it illegal for a company to inquire about a person’s felony history, further expanding a person’s rights regarding criminal drug charges.
1 in 4 Americans have a criminal history and over 70% of them experience unemployment after being released from prison. If this bill then becomes law, then New Mexico will be the same as six other states, including New York, Hawaii and Kansas.
Human rights advocates are applauding this decision because they feel as though applicants who have a felony are often dismissed from positions just because of previous drug convictions, even if they are a more appropriate fit for the job.
The campaign itself is called the Ban the Box campaign and it helps to eliminate the lasting stigma often associated with criminal histories. This is especially beneficial to those who have been convicted of marijuana offences, and it forces employers to hire workers based solely upon their skills and qualifications as opposed to their history and shortcomings. The bill wouldn’t stop background checks; however it does allow those who have a criminal past to at least get their foot through the door before they are immediately dismissed.