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California makes it easier for people with minor convictions to find jobs

California will ease restrictions on people with minor criminal convictions to help them land jobs in automotive repair, construction, cosmetology and other careers under a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

AB2138, by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, prohibits state licensing boards from barring people with minor convictions from professions licensed by the state. Those with serious felonies could still be kept from such jobs.

The new law will take effect July 1, 2020. Brown signed the legislation Sunday.

Under Chiu’s bill, the Department of Consumer Affairs, which issues licenses for 42 bureaus and boards, cannot deny an application based on a minor conviction that is more than 7 years old. A board must also ignore a dismissed conviction of any vintage unless it is substantially related to the profession to which a person is applying.

Nearly 30 percent of jobs in California, encompassing almost 1,800 occupations, require some kind of license or certificate. Chiu said too many people with minor offenses were being turned away by those boards and agencies.

report released this month by Californians for Safety and Justice found that 80 percent of Californians with criminal records struggle to find a job, housing and other avenues for reintegrating into society once they complete their sentences.

“If the state of California is truly committed to rehabilitation, then we need to walk the walk,” Chiu said. “It is unacceptable for us to provide job-specific training while people are incarcerated and then put up nonsensical roadblocks to becoming employed in those very same professions upon re-entry.”

Melody Gutierrez
San Francisco Chronicle

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