State and local agencies in California can no longer ask about a job applicant’s criminal background on the initial job application. It’s a new state law that takes effect this month.
Supporters of AB 218 say more than 20 percent of California adults have an arrest record. They say job seekers who answer “yes” to the question “have you ever been arrested” on an application, usually get no further in the hiring process. Assemblyman Roger Dickinson authored the law. He says it could help the state reach its prison population reduction goals.
“If a person can’t find a job, the odds increase dramatically that the person is simply going to return to what they were doing before,” says Dickinson. “They’ll end up offending again and in all likelihood returning to incarceration.”
Agencies are still allowed to conduct background checks later in the hiring process. The law exempts jobs involving public safety and children.