NEWARK — President Obama ordered federal agencies on Monday to stop asking most prospective employees about their criminal histories at the beginning of the application process, a change long sought by activists to help reintegrate former inmates into society.
During a trip to Newark, where he visited a residential drug treatment center, Mr. Obama said that America would be stronger if it found ways to move criminals emerging from prison into paying jobs, but that too many employers dismiss applicants out of hand if they are honest and check the box asking whether they have been convicted of a crime.
“It’s not too late,” Mr. Obama told an audience at the Newark campus of Rutgers University that included a few ex-offenders who had turned their lives around. “There are people who have gone through tough times, they’ve made mistakes, but with a little bit of help, they can get on the right path. And that’s what we have to invest in. That’s what we have to believe. That’s what we have to promote.”
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