Bill Would Maximize Employment Opportunities and Increase Public Safety
Sacramento – Today, Assembly Bill 218 by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento) was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 4-2 vote. The bill would prohibit requesting criminal background information on the initial employment application for local and state government employees, with the goal of reducing unnecessary barriers to employment for the one in four adult Californians who have an arrest or conviction record. If passed, California would join nine states and over 50 cities and counties across the United States that have adopted similar legislation.
“With this bill, the state and our cities and counties will take an important step toward allowing people with a conviction history to compete fairly for employment without compromising safety and security on the job,” said Dickinson. “Not only is this common sense, but studies have shown that stable employment significantly lowers recidivism and promotes public safety. In other words, a job is the best crime prevention program,” he added.
“Realignment” (AB 109) of California’s criminal justice system seeks to produce budgetary savings by reducing recidivism and promoting rehabilitation. Employment of eligible people with a conviction history is key to the success of realignment, as studies have shown that stable employment significantly lowers recidivism and promotes public safety. Not only will this increase public safety in our communities, but it is cost-effective. Reducing the prison population and increasing tax revenue from newly-employed individuals will help to fuel a strong economic recovery.
AB 218 would remove any inquiry into a conviction history on an initial job application and delay any background check until the employer has determined that the applicant’s qualifications meet the job requirements. Under Governor Schwarzenegger, the State Personnel Board removed the question from job applications for state positions in 2010 and added a criminal history supplemental questionnaire for exempted positions.
Under the bill, criminal history information could still be requested in the initial employment application for law enforcement positions, positions working with children, the elderly or disabled, and other sensitive positions, and criminal background checks could be done at the discretion of the employer.
There is a large and diverse coalition of over 90 organizations in support of the bill including local governments, labor, interfaith, reentry, civil rights, employment, criminal justice, and others.
A similar bill authored by Dickinson, AB 1831, was held in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee last year. AB 218 will next be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
CONTACT: Taryn Kinney, (916) 319-2007