By Kelly Cohen
A bipartisan group of governors and business executives will visit the White House Tuesday for a discussion on hiring workers who have criminal records.
Kentucky’s Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, will be joined by executives from Uber, Home Depot, Koch Industries, Brown-Forman Corporation, John Hopkins Health System and others for the talk, which was organized by the Council of State Governments Justice Center.
The White House has already held meetings on prison reform and prisoner re-entry, spearheaded by Jared Kushner’s Office of American Innovation.
Even though criminal justice reform has been stalled in Congress for years, state and local reforms have been able to pass, particularly in places like Kentucky and Colorado. Most recently, the Kentucky legislature under Bevin passed a bill making it easier for felons to obtain occupational licenses.
Mark Holden, senior vice president and general counsel of of Koch Industries, told the Washington Examiner that the meeting is just one of a handful the White House plans on this topic, and there appears to be an interest in getting meaningful reform passed at the federal level.
“We are very excited at bringing people together, with the White House convening it and helping people who have made mistakes have a positive future,” Holden said, noting that tens of millions of people in America have some sort of criminal background.
“It doesn’t make sense to say we’re going to exclude one-third of the potential workforce. If employers do that, we think it’s very short sighted,” he said.
The FBI says about 73.5 million people have a criminal record, which includes any arrest on a felony charge, even if the arrest did not lead to a conviction.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 6.7 million adults are either incarcerated or on parole or probation, about three out of every 100 adults.