Senators, Groups Oppose ‘Diversion’ Hiring Move

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A bipartisan group of senators is urging the Trump administration to drop a proposal that would require federal job applicants to disclose whether they went through a criminal diversion program, a requirement that critics say would make it harder for former offenders to find work, the Washington Post reports. In a letter to Office of Personnel Management acting director Margaret Weichert, Sens. Richard  Durbin (D-IL), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mike Lee (R-UT) said the proposed change would “no doubt exclude deserving applicants from valued federal employment opportunities” and “is flatly at odds” with the goals of the First Step Act, which Trump signed last year.

“Those who have accepted the consequences of their actions, and who in many cases have worked hard to complete court-mandated programming, should have the opportunity to reenter the workplace,” the senators said. “We should be working to eliminate—not erect—such barriers.” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)  described the move as “a solution in search of a problem.” Under the proposed update to hiring requirements, applicants who get a job offer from the federal government or its contractors would have to disclose whether they went through a pretrial diversion program that allowed them to avoid prison. The answer could lead an agency to rescind the offer. As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, the last day for public input on the move, the proposal had received nearly 3,500 comments. A coalition of groups representing prosecutors, public defenders, criminal justice advocates and state and local governments is also urging the Trump administration to withdraw the proposal. They include the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Center for American Progress, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the R Street Institute and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association.

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