The University of California (UC) system has adopted a “ban the box” policy to remove criminal conviction history from the initial employment application process, which may become effective as early as October 2017. This new policy will prohibit the University of California system from asking applicants about their previous criminal convictions on their initial employment application. By modifying the hiring policy to remove the need to check a box and reveal former legal difficulties, barriers to opportunity are broken down. Information about previous criminal convictions will instead be requested at a later time during the background and reference portion of the hiring process. Employment offers are made after a successful completion of a background check. If convictions are reported on the final report, the Human Resource staff will take a careful look at the convictions and determine suitability for employment.

Implementation of this policy will provide opportunities for more qualified and capable individuals. “Many have earned UC degrees after their legal difficulties and they should be able to continue to build a successful, stable future for themselves,” said Dwaine B. Duckett, Vice President of Systemwide Human Resources. Modifications to the University of California system’s hiring policy stemmed from a movement led by the University of California, Berkeley advocacy group, Underground Scholars Initiative, which supported formerly incarcerated Berkeley students. “The thought of checking that box on every application — before I had a chance to show what I had to offer — used to make me very pessimistic about the future,” stated Clarence Ford, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. “This decision by UC HR is a real victory in our work to increase opportunities for people impacted by the criminal justice system.”