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Ohioans With Convictions Are Barred From One-In-Four Jobs

Neil Conway

A quarter of Ohio jobs are legally off limits for anyone with a criminal conviction, according to a new report from the left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio.

The report, released last month, finds that as many as one in three Ohioans are barred from certain work due to state laws that restrict access to jobs, housing and civic rights for anyone with a conviction. That means 1.3 million jobs are off-limits, and led to an estimated $3.4 billion in lost wages in 2017.

“Having a conviction, and even a felony conviction, does not mean that a person is a bad worker,” says Michael Shields, the report’s co-author. “It’s a poor tool used in its own right for assessment.”

Shields says these laws are too broad and end up hurting businesses as well.

“Factors should include the length of time that’s passed since the conviction, and what steps the person has taken to overcome the conviction that they’ve had in the past,” Shields says.

The report recommends that the legislature makes many of these restrictions more targeted. It also encourages employers to “ban the box,” by removing the question on job forms asking if applicants have a criminal record.