San Francisco is considering groundbreaking legislation that would require landlords and employers to delve deeper into an applicant’s criminal history before ruling them out.
The idea stemmed from The City’s Reentry Council, a board that includes members from the Mayor’s Office, Police and Sheriff’s departments, District Attorney and Public Defender’s offices, the Adult and Juvenile Probation departments, and a host of other law enforcement and social services agencies. The council unanimously recommended that the legislation be enacted to aid those convicted of a crime successfully reenter their communities.
Many experts agree that not being able to find a job or a place to live once released from prison greatly increases a person’s chance of reoffending, so many in the city are hoping this law is passed.
Under the proposed law, landlords and employers would still be able to conduct background checks of potential employees or residents, but not up front. They would only be able to run a background check once its determined that the applicant is a possible match for the job or apartment. Officials hope that this change will give convicted felons a greater chance at obtaining a job by allowing employers to get to know them first before finding out about their past.
Although the city of San Francisco has employed a hiring similar policy to fill city positions for the last five years, many small business owners and landlords are nervous about the possible change.