California lawmakers want to make it easier for ex-cons to get job licenses

Monday, April 23, 2018

San Francisco Chronicle – By Melody Gutierrez

SACRAMENTO — California prison inmates are offered training in automotive repair, cosmetology, construction and other fields as part of their rehabilitation. Then, when they get out, state licensing boards often bar them from those professions because of their convictions.

Some Democratic lawmakers want to change that, saying that if California is truly interested in rehabilitating inmates, it needs to make it possible for them to get jobs.

“Everyone deserves a chance to make a living,” Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said Monday. “We can’t just say we want to rehabilitate people and then block them from the jobs they desperately need to turn their lives around.”

Chiu said California has made strides in removing barriers for ex-convicts, citing a ban on asking job applicants about their criminal history. Letting them into professions that require state licenses is the next step, he said.

Nearly 30 percent of jobs in California, encompassing almost 1,800 occupations, require some kind of license or certificate to practice. Those are granted by state oversight boards or agencies. Chiu said too many people with minor offenses are being turned away.

Jael Myrick of the East Bay Community Law Center said the group has helped people whose license applications were rejected simply because they had been arrested, without ever being convicted.

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