New state law helps former criminals get back to work - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

New state law helps former criminals get back to work


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) --  A new law in Minnesota is giving former criminals a chance to level the playing field in the job market.

Both private and public employers are no longer allowed to ask about criminal background on a job application. 

"It may help a few people, that are able once they get into the interview process, to explain their situation," said Andy Kilen, the founder and director of New Chapter Ministries. 

"They get into the interview and they can explain," he said. "Maybe it isn't threatening to the person that's hiring them and they're able to get a job because of that."

That's a good thing, said Michael Haney of the Workforce Center, who agrees skills should outweigh past crimes in some instances.

"Somebody may have some really good skills, and like I said from our perspective, sometimes you have someone with a one time indiscretion or whatever, or sometimes they learn their lesson. Or sometimes they learn their skill while they're in the correctional facility," Haney said. 

Employers can still ask about a potential hire's background during an interview and do criminal background checks, something Kilen says won't change the results much. 

"I don't see this law being a big advantage to them. Again, it may help some of them gain an interview. But their record is still going to be exposed at some point," Kilen said. 

However other states may soon join Minnesota, seeing people for more than how their records appear on paper. 

"With the skill shortage, I think more and more states are looking at this," Haney said. "They're saying that an automatic exclusion from interviews is probably not a good thing."
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