North Carolina agencies within Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration are changing hiring practices to help give people with criminal histories more job opportunities.

Cooper issued an executive order this week that directs state agencies and offices under his control to implement “fair chance” policies by Nov. 1. The policies are designed to help people previously in trouble with the law make a living.

Under the order, agencies must omit criminal records questions from employment applications.\

Background checks must wait until later, and applicants will be given the opportunity to explain their histories. Criminal pardons and expunctions cannot be considered in hiring, either.

Cooper’s office says more than 1.7 million North Carolina residents have criminal records. The General Assembly passed a “second chance” law this year, allowing more people to clear their records of lower-level criminal convictions and dismissed charges.

Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.