August 19, 2020
Governor Roy Cooper
1 E Edenton St
Raleigh, NC 27601
RE: Letter of Support for Executive Order No. 158 Furthering Fair Chance Policies in State Government Employment
Dear Governor Cooper:
I write on behalf of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in support of Executive Order No. 158 Furthering Fair Chance Policies in State Government Employment (EO 158). The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) is a legal nonprofit organization promoting justice by partnering with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities to defend and advance their political, social, and economic rights. For more than a decade, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice has used legal and community advocacy to advance the interests of those disproportionately impacted by the justice system, including advocating for ban-the-box policies at the local and state level.
We support EO 158 and its attempt to reduce employment disparities experienced by those with a criminal record by banning the box on certain state employment applications. Individuals with a criminal record often struggle to find meaningful employment that pays a living wage. This is a vulnerable, yet skilled, population who are often discouraged from applying for state jobs or are overlooked in favor of those without a criminal background. EO 158 provides them with an opportunity to display their knowledge, skills and experience without carrying the stigma of a criminal record. Moreover, the financial security of working for a state agency promotes economic stability and helps reduce the likelihood of reoffending.
Although we support EO 158, we believe that there are areas of concern that the Governor’s Office and State Legislature still need to address. For example, increasing incentives and liability coverage for private employers who ban the box will more fully extend employment opportunities for individuals with a criminal record. Please contact the Southern Coalition for Social Justice with any questions around implementation of EO 158 and other ways to support justice-involved individuals.
Justice Systems Reform Staff Attorney
Southern Coalition for Social Justice