Governor Jerry Brown has signed ‘Ban the Box’ legislation into law – Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218) – to help the approximately one in four adult Californians with arrest or conviction records find government jobs.
Introduced by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), AB 218 prohibits the requesting of criminal record information on initial employment applications for local and state government jobs. AB 218 removes any inquiries into conviction histories on initial job applications – the ‘box’ applicants are asked to check if they have a criminal record – except for positions such as law enforcement and working with children, the elderly, or disabled, and other sensitive positions.
The law also delays background checks until employers have determined that the qualifications of applicants meet the job requirements. AB 218 affects only when – not if – employers may consider criminal conviction history for employment purposes.
“I am proud that with this bill, the state and our cities and counties take an important step toward allowing people with a conviction history to compete fairly for employment without compromising safety and security on the job,” Assemblymember Dickinson stated in a press release available on his Assembly web page. “Stable employment significantly lowers recidivism and promotes public safety – a job is the best crime prevention program. This policy will open doors for qualified workers who have turned their lives around.”
According to a ‘Ban the Box’ Resource Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a non-profit organization that focuses on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers, California joins nine states and over 50 cities and counties across the United States that have adopted similar legislation.
A study from NELP titled ‘65 Million Need Not Apply’ found that more than one in four adults in the United States had criminal records. The study estimated that 64.6 million people – representing 27.8 percent of the U.S. adult population – had a criminal record for either an arrest or a conviction on file with states.
The full text of Assembly Bill 218 is available at http://openstates.org/ca/bills/20132014/AB218/.