Virginia last Friday became the newest state to ban the question about criminal history on employment applications for most state jobs. For candidates with either past arrests or convictions, that means less immediate discrimination and a greater chance of proceeding through the application process based on their qualifications. Inquiries about criminal history can be made after a person is determined a good candidate for the position.

At least 14 other states and a growing number of municipalities now ban the criminal history question. Discriminating against those with criminal records often means denying employment to a population the size of a major U.S. city. It also means denying stable income or housing options to the families who depend on them.

More than 650,000 individuals are released from prison into their communities each year. About 7 million people, roughly the population of New York City, are currently under some form of correctional supervision, the lowest number observed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics since 2000. 

Virginia’s executive order does not apply to private businesses.