California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law, to be effective on July 2014, stating that state or local government agencies on the State of California will not be allowed to ask the potential employees any questions regarding their criminal history during the first screening process. Brown follows the footsteps of his predecessor, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gave the order to stop asking for criminal history information on job interviews to most government agencies.
Although the employers can still request information regarding the criminal background history of their applicants, this information can only be requested once the candidates have surpassed the first screening process. This means that, if the candidate has the necessary qualifications and is experienced enough to do the job, they shall pass to the next step in the selection process, where they may be asked about their criminal past.
This law, proposed by Democrat assemblyman Roger Dickinson, aims to enhance the chances of people with criminal records to rehabilitate and reintegrate into society. The supporters of the bill see it as a way of offering a second chance to citizens who may have made a mistake in the past. Another argument held in favor of this law is that criminal background checks usually have a negative impact on ethnic minorities.
The passing of this bill reopens the old discussion about what is exactly the main goal of the corrections system; while people like Governor Jerry Brown see it as a way of rehabilitating people in a bad situation, more conservative parties shake their heads as they consider this bill as a way of diminishing the punitive nature of the corrections system. Some detractors of the new law, including district attorneys and city officials, express their repulse for this bill as they consider that these matters should be dealt by local governments instead of being imposed by laws of the State.
This is the ninth State that has come forward with a law of this nature, indicating a new trend in the legislation of the employment processes. Indeed, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recommended in the past that government agencies and private companies eliminate any questions from their job application forms and interviews any related to the criminal history of the candidates,
According to assemblyman Roger Dickinson, this law follows the trail of Governor Jerry Brown’s realignment program, which allowed many low level offenders to be sentenced to serve time in county jail, instead of state prison, and then to be released into the community under the supervision of law enforcement officers. This program was launched as a way of maximizing the rehabilitating factor of the corrections system for those felons whose offences were of lower importance.
The new law gives more opportunities to citizens with criminal records by giving the employers the chance to meet them as candidates before knowing their criminal past. According to assemblyman Roger Dickinson, this bill should give more opportunities to citizens with a criminal history.
The new law has a few exceptions. Those citizens applying for positions in any kind of police force, or any school teacher position, or any job that involves working with children, may be asked questions regarding their criminal history during their first interview or when filling the pertinent forms.