Koch Industries’ New Policy: Stop Asking Job Applicants About Their Prior Convictions

Charles and David Koch, oft vilified by liberal politicos for their tendency to spend their disproportionate wealth on their favorite political causes, have been focusing their lobbying efforts this year on the promotion of criminal justice reform, a cause favored by many liberal groups. BenSwann.com recently brought news of the Koch brothers’ plans to fund a campaign against police militarization, their efforts to spread awareness of the plight of a man who was sentenced to 55 years for pot, and their unlikely tag-team partner in their criminal justice reform plot, progressive billionaire George Soros. The Koch brothers are also spearheading an initiative to restore voting rights to non-violent felons.

Now, USA Today is reporting that Koch Industries has announced a new policy change in an effort to help reformed ex-offenders obtain jobs. The corporation, which currently employs 60,000 people and hired 9,100 workers last year, will no longer ask job applicants about their prior criminal convictions. Koch Industries representative Melissa Cohlmia also said that the company has hired qualified individuals with criminal backgrounds in the past.

“Do we want to be judged for the rest of our life for something that happened on our worst day?” said Koch Industries attorney Mark Holden, commenting on the corporate policy change. Under the War on Drugs’ harsh prohibition laws, America’s incarceration rate has exploded, leaping past nations controlled by brutal dictators to take the number one spot worldwide. Holden advocated for a criminal justice system with a goal of protecting the public rather than “putting mentally ill people in prison as a way station or just kind of dealing with vagrants or people with drug problems.”

The above-embedded Inform video notes that Koch Industries is joining other employers like Target, Home Depot, Walmart, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond who have also removed the criminal convictions question from their job applications. The State of Vermont also recently stripped the question from its hiring process.

Said Holden in a statement cited by The Hill, “The criminal justice system should be improved to enhance public safety, honor the Bill of Rights, and treat everyone involved in the system with dignity and respect, from the accused to the victims of crime to law enforcement… Removing the question about prior criminal convictions from our job application process is one way to achieve this goal. As a large United States-based manufacturing company that employs 60,000 American workers we shouldn’t be rejecting people at the very start of the hiring process who may otherwise be capable and qualified and want an opportunity to work hard.” Koch Industries will instead perform workplace safety motivated criminal background checks after determining whether a candidate is qualified.

“The fact that more and more of our nation’s major employers — including a company like Koch Industries that is synonymous with conservative politics — are choosing to embrace fair-chance hiring policies shows that this is an idea with broad appeal whose time has come,” read a statement by National Employment Law Project executive director Christine Owens.

Koch Industries removed the criminal convictions question from its job applications last month.