Mayor Eric Garcetti's show of support came as concerns grow
nationally that millions of people who have been to prison,
particularly from minority communities, have little prospect of
landing a job once they admit to a conviction.
"We donít want to prejudge somebody who might turn out to be the
best employee in the entire department," Garcetti said in a speech.
"We donít want people returning to prison."
Under the law, which takes effect next month, state and local
governments in California will generally not be allowed to ask about
a candidate's criminal record on the initial application. They may
ask later in the process. Jobs involving law enforcement or working
with children are exempted.
Garcetti would also like to see criminal record checks eliminated
from applications for subsidized housing, and wants businesses to
follow the city's lead in job applications, said his spokesman, Jeff
Democratic Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, who introduced the state
law, said the aim was to prevent applicants from being rejected
outright, before hiring managers get to know them.
"Let people have a foot in the door, give them a chance to be
considered on their qualifications," said Dickinson.
Nationally, 61 cities including New York, Washington and
Philadelphia have adopted similar policies, according to the
National Employment Law Project, which estimates one in four U.S.
adults has a record of arrest or conviction.
[to top of second column]
Opponents say some such measures go too far.
A bill making its way through the California Legislature would
eliminate a prohibition against certifying people as nurse's aides
if they have been convicted of felonies including murder, extortion
and sex crimes.
The measure is meant to require the state to look beyond the
conviction to see if someone has been rehabilitated, said Charles
Stewart, a spokesman for the bill's author, state Senator Holly
But Peter DeMarco, a spokesman for Senate Republicans, said the
measure could expose vulnerable people to criminals.
"Youíre talking about people who are working in nursing homes, one
of the main points of daily contact for our parents and
grandparents," DeMarco said. "Thereís certainly been no shortage of
reports of abuse by people in similar situations."
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif., Editing by
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