Labor & Employment

Federal job seekers shouldn’t have to disclose whether they were in diversion programs, ABA says

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The ABA opposes a proposed federal rule that would require federal job applicants to divulge whether they’ve been through criminal diversion programs meant to avoid conviction.

Under the rule change, Question No. 9 on the Declaration for Federal Employment, Optional Form 306 would ask, among other criminal background questions, whether the applicant in the last seven years has “been subject to judge or court specified conditions requiring satisfactory completion before a criminal charge has been or will be dismissed.”

While the name of the form indicates otherwise, it is not optional to fill out when going through the federal employment process.

“The inclusion of the question undermines strong public policy supporting the creation of diversion programs, and it will unnecessarily restrict the pool of qualified job candidates the federal government attracts,” wrote ABA President Bob Carlson in the letter dated May 1.

Carlson said the rule contradicts the objectives of current criminal justice reform initiatives, including the Trump administration’s support of the First Step Act passed in December, and it is prejudicial against those who have worked to make positive changes in their lives.

Carlson added that the proposed rule would “dismantle decades of positive contributions that collaborative courts have made to American jurisprudence and to society at large,” including drug courts, which help divert people away from the traditional justice system and toward treatment.

“Given that most diversion type dispositions involve a substance use and/or nonthreatening mental health disorder, the proposed amendment unfairly seeks to identify those who may have such an issue or engaged in a related incident that led to law enforcement contact,” he wrote. “Although some progress has been made, stigma still attaches to those who may suffer from these conditions, regardless of whether they have been arrested, prosecuted or convicted.”

See also: “Trump administration seeks to expand criminal background checks for federal job seekers”

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