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NCUA Board Member Todd M. Harper Remarks - Second-Chance Interpretive Ruling and Policy Statement

November 2019
NCUA Board Member Todd M. Harper Remarks - Second-Chance Interpretive Ruling and Policy Statement
The Honorable Todd M. Harper [10]

“Providing second chances is in credit unions’ DNA.”  Board Member Todd M. Harper addresses November NCUA Board meeting.

As Prepared for Delivery on November 21, 2019

Chairman Hood, thank you for advancing this Second Chance Policy Statement and for focusing our attention on giving people a chance at redemption. I will vote in support of finalizing the Policy Statement. And, Pamela, thank you for your presentation and your good work on the matter before us today.

As David Millar – the former road racing cyclist, banned from the sport for taking performance-enhancing drugs – said, “[p]eople do make mistakes and I think they should be punished.  But they should be forgiven and given the opportunity for a second chance.  We are human beings.”

In working to provide access to financial services to people of modest means, credit unions are very familiar with providing second chances. After all, they regularly work with their members who have experienced financial hardship and help to set them on the right footing.

This Policy Statement will allow credit unions to do the same for their employees. That makes sense.  After all, providing second chances is in credit unions’ DNA.

The NCUA Board, too, recognizes that many Americans face hiring barriers due to criminal records.  Many of these individuals are not violent or career criminals.  They are people who made poor choices and have paid their debts to society. Notably, more than 70 million people in the U.S. have an arrest or conviction record that could show up in an employment background check.  Many of these individuals are from communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by our criminal justice system.

Giving these individuals a second chance is who we are as nation – a people who value forgiveness and redemption. In that spirit of compassion, we are working to expand career opportunities for people who have demonstrated remorse and accepted responsibility for their past mistakes. We are also moving forward judiciously.

As NASCUS noted in their comment letter, “NCUA has taken a measured approach that balances mitigating risk to a federally insured credit union with providing a meaningful second chance to individuals who having committed a prior indiscretion have paid their debt to society and seek gainful employment.”  I agree. In particular, young people who took foolish missteps and committed minor offenses when they were still at an impressionable age should be afforded a greater opportunity for a second chance.

To my fellow Board Members, thank you for agreeing to include the “ban the box” language in this policy statement. Pamela, many states have adopted “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking about criminal records at the start of the job application process.  Would you speak to the prevalence of these laws and how our final Policy Statement would interact with these laws?

Finally, in footnote 3 on page 4, we note that in several recent cases the offense in question met four of the five de minimis criteria but did not qualify for the exception because the potential punishment exceeded the standard set in the 2008 policy statement.  Pamela, would you provide some more detail about the how this final Policy Statement would address this situation? Thank you, again.

I have no further questions and, as I stated earlier, I will support this final Second Chance Policy Statement.

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