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Applicants to the City of Ann Arbor will no longer be required to disclose past felony convictions, except for police and fire department position. The City Council voted unanimously Monday night in favor of a new hiring policy removing all references to past felony convictions from city employment applications, except for police and fire department applicants. In many cases, city officials said, a felony conviction is used to prevent employment, but the city does not use felony convictions that way, having recognized that many city jobs are not incompatible with many felony convictions. But those seeking jobs often feel turned away before they even apply when they are required to disclose a felony conviction, city officials said.

To ensure that individuals with criminal backgrounds receive a fair review when they apply for city jobs, the council went on record declaring it an official policy that a prior criminal conviction will not bar employment by the city unless there's a direct correlation between the conviction and the requirements of the job. The new policy still allows the city to conduct criminal background checks and ensure that new employees possess the skills needed for the position they're seeking, while not placing them in a position where their past could cause problems.
Ann Arbor is joining several communities both locally and nationally that have gotten behind the "ban the box" campaign and adopted policies that remove the criminal conviction check box found on many employment applications.
It notes that about 300 individuals return to Washtenaw County from prison each year after having served sentences for felony convictions, and historically it has been very difficult for them to obtain employment because of their criminal histories.

When a background check is conducted, the city will consider the nature of the offense for which the individual was convicted, the time that has passed since the offense or completion of a sentence, the nature of the job sought, evidence that the individual performed the same type of work post-conviction with another employer with no known incidents of criminal conduct, the length and consistency of employment history before and after the offense, as well as rehabilitation efforts, employment or character references, and any other information regarding fitness for the position.

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