The biggest discriminators against ex-offenders? State governments

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An estimated one-in-three Americans has a criminal record. But given that roughly 95 percent of arrests are for nonviolent, nonsexual offenses, most ex-offenders pose little to no risk to public safety and should face minimal barriers when seeking work.

However, employers are still wary of hiring people with any rap sheet—which is why policymakers have significantly reformed how U.S. employers can consider applicants with criminal records. Recent guidelines released by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission strictly regulate how employers handle criminal background checks so that ex-offenders do not face discrimination.

But by focusing only on the private sector, policymakers have failed to address the biggest discriminators of all—state governments.