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CA: Governor Brown signs landmark legislation to remove barriers to licensing and decrease recidivism

[ – press release] [Note: AB 2138 will not benefit those convicted of a sex offense]

Sacramento, CA—This past weekend, Governor Edmund “Jerry” Brown signed AB 2138, authored by Assemblymembers David Chiu and Evan Low, to remove barriers for occupational licensing for close to 8 million Californians living with criminal records.

AB 2138 was supported by a coalition of 50+ organizations, including East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), Root & Rebound, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), All of Us or None, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Alameda County Public Defender, PolicyLink, the Alliance for Boys & Men of Color, the National Association of Social Workers, and many more.

AB 2138 opens pathways to family-sustaining careers to millions of Californians who have past justice system contact. The bill ensures that close to 40 licensing boards governed under the Department of Consumer Affairs cannot deny people otherwise trained and qualified for licenses due to irrelevant and dismissed convictions. Specifically, the bill creates a seven-year “washout” period after which licensing agencies cannot consider crimes that are not serious felonies, sex offenses, or relevant financial crimes. It also eliminates requirements that applicants self-disclose the details of their record prior to issuance of a California Department of Justice background check, freeing applicants from disclosing from memory alone and refocusing agencies on the facts of an applicant’s record. AB 2138 also sets out criteria for considering an applicant’s rehabilitation and bans the use of dismissed and sealed convictions, convictions for which a person received a Certificate of Rehabilitation, and non-conviction acts such as arrests that never led to conviction to deny licensure.

Studies have shown that states with more fair processes for occupational licensing have dramatically lower recidivism rates.

Many Californians are denied licenses to work in jobs they are qualified to perform due to old or irrelevant criminal records. In some cases, people are denied licenses for jobs they have performed successfully for years in the past without incident or were trained to do while incarcerated, simply because of a conviction for a minor offense unrelated to their job.

With AB 2138, Californians with criminal records will be able to access licenses for close to 40 occupations they were previously barred from or very unlikely to receive. Covered occupations range from automotive repair to psychology to cosmetology.

The signing of AB 2138 is a huge victory for all Californians.

Join the discussion

  1. jo

    So, states that make it easier to get an occupational license show lower recidivism, but they exclude those on the registry that…..wait for it….have “frightful and high” recidivism. Let me get this straight: the group you would think they would lunge at the chance to reduce recidivism they actually forgo the opportunity to lift some of the hardships.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  2. Dustin

    To start, in general I think it’s pretty sad that so many professions require licensing in the first place. Understand medical, but I don’t think a state license is necessary for, say, a barber or mechanic. General rule of commerce is that you hire a service provider at your own risk and simply being licensed doesn’t mean you’re going to get honest, competent, or satisfactory service.

    Second, why exclude registrants? Don’t recall where, but some judge opined that additional restrictions placed on registrants can be interpreted as revisiting previous offenses rather than efforts to prevent future ones (Packingham, maybe?). AB 2138 seems a pretty good example of that.

  3. R M

    The human race continues to boggle my mind. And they wonder why “California has the third highest rate nationally with 34 in every 10,000 people in the state experiencing homelessness.”


    It’s almost as if the crooked politicans want “sex offenders” to reoffend. Why exclude sex offenses, as well as “serious” felonies, from being able to attain professional licenses? The seven-year “washout period” should apply to everyone — especially if “[s]tudies have shown that states with more fair processes for occupational licensing have dramatically lower recidivism rates.”

    Again, it’s as if the corrupt politicans have designed a system so that once you are labeled a “sex offender” and/or “serious” felon, and using the premise of their studies, the system would much rather you recidivate so that you become a pawn to help support the Prison Industrial System.

    Because if fewer people eventually recidivate, there would be less “criminals” to rationalize jobs as police officers, prison guards, prosecutors, judges, etc. There is nothing incremental about this.

    • R M

      You hit the nail on the head with “It’s almost as if the crooked politicans want “sex offenders” to reoffend.”

  5. cool CA RC

    Can we file a lawsuit?

  6. Anonymous

    This is like a friggin punishment.

    • Matt

      No, No, No……This is no worse than a membership at Price Club. There are dozens of constitutional challenges to the registry. Although I appreciate the effort, I do not understand why we are screwing around with residency restrictions, etc. I am waiting, patiently, for an explanation of why we are not taking this whole thing back to SCOTUS. Registrants are attacked, killed, defamed, denied employment, disallowed from participating, and marginalized……all for nothing more than the burden of a membership at Price Club. I don’t get it.


        I hate (yes, strong word) how John Roberts created a comparision between Price Club membership and sex offender registration. I know that the comparison was merely to show that at the time, Alaska’s registration form — which was a mail-in (not in-person) requirement — was not any more burdensome than signing up for Price Club membership. But this was a highly manipulative and deceitful comparison made by a man who would later become, to our detriment, “Chief Justice.”

        Price Club, now Costco membership, had/has great benefits. $1.50 Hot Dogs (with free refills), $10 Extra Large Pizza, the best quality eyeglasses, excellent Kirkland brand products, cheap electronics, cheap printer ink, discounts on gift cards, cheap prescription drugs, excellent travel benefits (not that we can use most of it anyway), cheap tires, and the cheapest gas found any where else.

        With “sex offender” membership, we get the courtesy of in-person registration requirements with the penalty of imprisonment if we do not comply, the threat of potential “compliance checks,” random increases in “tiering” (even if we’ve been offense-free for many years), ostracization from people if/when they discover our past, the threat of potentially losing housing and/or employment (if you are so fortunate to have either/or), the challenge of even finding housing and/or employment, and the lifelong imposition of junk “sciences,” in form of Static-99R-like risk assessments, that’s perpetually imposed on us.

        It’s almost as if the entire premise of sex offender registration is based off of entirely intellectually dishonest arguments and fake “facts.”

  7. G4Change

    So, if you are convicted of a non-serious FELONY, then you are benefited. But if you are convicted of a MISDEMEANOR that triggers registration, then you cannot be benefited by this?????

    Is it just me, or is this a serious Equal Protection violation??????

  8. NY won't let go

    I may have read this wrong but I read it like 8 times.

    “Specifically, the bill creates a seven-year “washout” period after which licensing agencies cannot consider crimes that are not serious felonies, sex offenses, or relevant financial crimes.”

    Doesn’t this mean registrants Can get licensed? Like they can’t look at the crimes after 7 years?

    • AO

      @NY – No. It applies to crimes that are NOT those listed. Sex offense do not benefit from this.

      • NY won't let go

        Okay, reread it again. The wording was a bit confusing when I read it before. (still jet lagged)

        That’s some horseshit. I understand if it was like NY’s law where you can’t drive an ice cream truck if you’re on the registry. But if it’s like lawyer or construction worker or auto tech that’s stupid.

        What job do they expect people to get? Selling oranges on the corner? Wait nope can’t even do that, might be too close to an area where kids are at. 😑 too bad the US can’t be like other countries where you serve your time, take your punishment and get let go to live what life you have left.

  9. Tim Moore

    Two things: One of the orgs that support this calls itself “All of Us or None”. It should be call “some of us are more deserving than others”.
    The “Anti Recidivism Coalition” should stop and think. Who do you want to recidivate less, someone who raped or someone who stole a shirt from Target? Which already has the easier time getting work?

  10. Frustrated

    For those who have lost their licensing and still want to work in their profession, consider other countries.
    The U.S. , and California specifically is very strict and can be difficult in certain areas concerning licensing. As a healthcare professional, I experienced this 1st hand.
    But many countries are much more “forgiving” when it comes to this. They put more value on the service and not on one mistake.
    Obviously finding a country of choice, a company (or establishing a business), and family needs come into play, but these are the same problems we face here.
    I have investigated this route, and it is encouraging. I am single, so that does help.
    It is all political and will always be. Things will only get worse here.
    The “good ole’ days” of being able to start anew or move forward are gone. Don’t accept this and live with false hopes, or realize reality and find places that will allow you to be who you are.


      What countries will accept us? With International Megan’s Law, Operation “Angel Watch,” etc… our own government have trapped us in our country with no hopes of ever moving out and starting “fresh” in other countries. Also, other countries also do background checks — so where exactly can we move, gain citizenship, and start new?

      Again, even if we wanted to move and start a new life in a different country, the United States — land of the “free” (LOL) — have trapped us in this dumb country, with a Supreme Court that’s about to go avengeance on “sex offenders.”

    • norman

      If you have the opportunity to escape this madness I say full steam ahead. If I had the opportunity to contribute to a society that offers forgiveness, I wouldn’t even think twice.

    • David Kennerly's Debased Existence

      Frustrated, Have you actually tried to apply for residency in a foreign country as, I take it, a “registrant?” Did you serve a year or more in prison? As for “But many countries are much more “forgiving” when it comes to this” I’m dying to know which country or countries that might be. I certainly haven’t found them. Are you thinking about how they treat their own “sex offender” citizens? Yes, that may well be but that isn’t us. If you can do it, great, but I’m not at all encouraged by anything I have found out about U.S. Registrants living in another country. Every single one I have looked at requires police reports/criminal background checks (which you have to pay for) and all of them look very disfavorably upon serious criminal convictions, let alone sex convictions, and especially if they involved spending significant time in prison. Unless someone can present some evidence for your assertion then I think that we should stop dangling that hope in front of desperate people. I have seen nothing hopeful about the emmigration route for us. Hell, we can’t even VISIT the rest of the world except for most of Europe and Hong Kong, maybe some of Africa and a couple of countries in Central and South America, let alone LIVE there. I’m afraid that we’re here for the time being and, one would hope, that that might galvanize us into a block to fight this injustice. But I’m not holding my breath. The overwhelming majority will wait for some benevolent lawyers and academics to come along to do it for them.

      • Frustrated

        Most european countries will consider. You need to jump through hoops, but it can be done.
        If you have a non reduction felony, then most likely no. I know Malaysia is one, Germany, Spain, and Africa.
        If you have a skill that they deam worth their time, and you have a job offer, then you have a shot.
        Blue collar jobs would not fare well, but jobs in healthcare, finance, even specialties like pilots can find work.
        I just know that there is little chance in U.S., but there are possibilities around the world.

  11. USA

    Like yourself, I had to read the Bill multiple times. What’s considered a Serious Felony? Then, I read the remark regarding registration (290 PC). If you are required to register, the 7 year wait doesn’t apply to you! Yet, another comment addressed PC 1203.4 (expungement). I believe it stated they couldn’t use a conviction/or plea against you if your offense was expunged and 7 years have elapsed? What if your offense (misdemeanor) was expunged and your still required to register? It’s rather difficult to fully understand. In conclusion, it basically required the Boards/Licensing Agencies to re address their licensing requirements. In my Case (unless I’m interpreting this incorrectly/I lost a professional license and my misdemeanor was expunged), I would need to get my registration requirement pursuant to SB 384 granted? Please advise

  12. Matthew

    The signing of AB 2138 is a huge victory for all Californians. Just not those with a sex offense.. Come on attorneys can we wake up and bring up a solid case?
    Everyone else can improve their lives but hey those of a sex related charge can’t? Right. It’s okay. Lets just keep going in circles until non-voting years.

  13. Eric

    This is just one more token on the pile to show that the registry is indeed additional punishment after sentencing. It clearly discriminates against a certain class. How is a CP offense, for example, more risky than a person who sells drugs to children? Why am I denied a second chance even though my SO evaluations said I was a low risk, yet we know drug dealers and gang members have a very high rate of recidivism.

    • Frustrated

      It has to do with what they define as vulnerable populations. Those of us with low risk offenses have been grouped in with high risk peoples.
      Since most licenses applied for have to do with services, the powers that be don’t want the perceived liablity. Again, false hysteria with little recourse.

      • Chris S.

        The state also muddles what constitutes “low” and “high” risk through its questionable “risk assessment instruments” (i.e. Static 99/R scam). I would personally say that after an offender has been offense-free in the community for a good amount of time, say at least seven to ten years, that should be enough proof for a person to attain most types of professional licenses. Being employed is so important to anyone’s ability to live an offense-free life—I question why the politicians excluded sex offenses in the first place.

        I agree that it’s almost like the system is designed to “set up” sex offenders to reoffend because if sex offenders reoffend, the politicians can continue imposing these stupid and dumb laws.

        • rosebud

          7-10 years and youre good to go. That is pretty much what the Static99 says.

          Where is the scam part? What is your point?

        • AO

          @Rosebud – The scam is that Static-99 just isn’t a valid test. Many studies have disproved it’s accuracy (much like most things dealing with RC’s, facts don’t matter to courts and legislature). But the bigger scam is that despite what the documentation of Static-99 states, California uses the single result from the beginning of your crime indefinitely. As far as anything is concerned with the state and laws, there is no expiration date for whatever number Static-99 assigned to you.

        • Chris S.

          Actually I’m pretty sure the Scam 99 is only valid for two years; but Karl Hanson created a misleading chart that “calculates” recidivism based on “static” (not dynamic) risk factors. Then CASOMB and SARATSO teamed up with the great “doctor” Hanson, with his goons from Carleton University, to make “research” claiming that the Static 99 scam is now valid for at least 10 years. Never mind the fact all of Hanson’s findings are a “trade secret.”

          Just reporting what many have already said on these forums.

        • rosebud

          @AO – not valid? What is your definition of “valid” in risk assessment involving human behavior? And what “studies” are you referring to? And how “vaild” are they?

          All I have seen (ad nauseum) is many users (ahem, ahem, including Chris S. on this thread – I won’t bother responding to the single “expert” with a million user names) ranting about it.

          Not defending it per se, but sure looks “valid” in terms of statistical analysis. Attacking the “doctor” and his “goons” etc is not a study.

          That this instrument is used in direct contradiction to its purpose (i.e. to predict lifetime risk) is not a “scam” by the Static-99. It is ignorance or malice by California lawmakers.

        • Not Exactly

          Rosebud, how exactly does the Static 99R, aka Scam 99R, “look ‘valid’ in terms of statistical analysis” when Karl Hanson has protected his data as proprietary and secret? Not to mention, that Karl Hanson is an unlicensed “doctor.” The same arguments against opaque bail “reform” risk assessment instruments could be made against sex offender risk assessment instruments such as Karl Hanson’s “Static” pseudosciences. They are both opaque, both non-transparent, both often administered by private companies that somehow profit from these Scam 99 type schemes. The only “ad nauseam” arguments are those who parrot the corrupt “studies” written by Karl Hanson and his goons (yes, they are goons).

          The question could be: Why do so many “scholars” and “experts” continue to defend the Static 99 tests — which are clearly infected with non-transparency, conflicts of interests, and clear logical flaws?

          In other words, what do adherents to the Static 99 scams have to gain??

          Not to mention, the preposterous notion that 10 questions, “static” at that, are unabashedly advertised as having the power to predict something as complicated as human behavior. Have we become so stupid?

        • Why Limit Felony Sex Offenses

          Two years, not ten years. Refer to page 13 of Karl Hanson’s Static99R scam:

          “Static risk assessments estimate the likelihood of recidivism at the time of release and we expect they would be valid for approximately two years.”

          Two year validity. Not ten years. Again, read page 13:

  14. USA

    I’m really not sure what to say. Would you want someone convicted of child molestation your licensed kidnegarden teacher? It’s a fine line.

    • That's Not Just What This Bill Limits

      Firstly, not every “sex offense” is child molestation. Rather than playing judgmental against “your own,” why not look at what this bill actually does. It limits ALL TYPES of sex offenses, not just child molestation, from gaining licensure. Anyone convicted of any type of sex offense cannot reap the benefits of this bill, even after seven years, in becoming: a lawyer, a real estate broker, a licensed contractor, etc.

      But even IF a person was convicted of child molestation, and he/she has spent seven-plus years offense free, why keep them from becoming a lawyer, real estate broker, or a licensed contractor? How does the offense (child molestation) have anything to do with practicing law, selling a home, or building a home? If anything, I can only see the ability for a former convict to gain employment as benefiting society as a whole.

      The way things are now, it seems that the corrupt politicians want sex offenders limited to 1. digging ditches, 2. dumpster diving for aluminum cans and glass bottles, and/or 3. collecting General Relief and EBT.

    • Will Allen

      You’ve fallen into the Registry Terrorist trap.

      It is a simple fact that any kindergarten teacher could be a rampant, repeat child molester. So, it is not NEARLY enough to just exclude some people from being there. Teachers have to be monitored. All of them. Always.

      I’m good with someone who has been to prison teaching. Because that person knows the consequences very well. People who are molesting who haven’t had consequences are not stopping. But, doesn’t matter either way. None of them will be molesting my children. Because I’m vigilant and I taught them well. I’m not counting on Nanny Big Government to fake “protect” my children.

    • Frustrated

      So many of these laws are geared towards the label and not the offense. How does a misdimeanor C.P. offense = a multiple felony molestation offense when it comes to travel, jobs, and licenses. This is the problem I have with the entire system. A misdomeanor pot possession isn’t treated the same as heroin or cocaine distribution.

    • Joe

      If you are not sure what to say, how about… nothing?

      Would you want a convicted drug dealer to be a licensed kindergarten teacher? A murderer? Really?

      Would you want to deny a (misdemeanor) sex offender a license to be a CPA? A plumber? A barber? Really?

      • Why Limit Felony Sex Offenses

        Why should a person, convicted of a felony sex offense, be denied the ability to be a CPA, plumber, or barber? Why only provide a second chance for someone convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense? Once seven years has passed, and a person has stayed offense free in that period, then they should be able to earn most occupational licenses — whether CPA, plumber, barber, lawyer, real estate broker, etc. What does having a felony (or misdemeanor) sex offense have anything to do with accounting, fixing pipes, cutting hair, providing legal services, or selling a home? At most, maybe a ten year washout. But a perpetual ban on being able to obtain professional license(s)? It’s 2018… time to move forward, not backward.

  15. USA

    Will, you have some great points, but no one is going to let a registered citizen become a teacher unless their offense is expunged and they are no longer required to register. Joe, you have some good points. I can see someone obtaining a CPA license etc. it’s truly unfortunate, but hopefully things will change. FYI: yet, we have Medical Doctors still practicing medicine after being convicted of Felony Sex Offenses!

  16. Scam-99R

    @rosebud –

    As a starting point, you seem to gloss over the fact that the Static-99R/Scam-99R lacks sample representativeness. The Static-99R lumps all types of offenses, as well as human beings, together into the same sample. Nor does the Scam-99R make alleged “prediction” to the type and/or severity of future offense.

    * This should be enough to discredit the Scam-99R. You don’t need a Karl Hanson statistically manipulative study — and/or any of the “experts” that prosthelytize “doctor” Hanson’s gospel — to apply common sense to reality. *

    But if you insist, I’m sure others can add on to the many flaws to the Static-99R / Scam-99R / “SARATSO Tool.”

  17. someone who cares

    Can someone explain the part where it refers to paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (d) of Section 290 of the Penal Code. What exactly is that part of 290? This is what directly relates to the licensing law, I guess. Thanks!

  18. NoOne

    To some one who cares:

    Paragraph (2) and (3) refers to tier 2 and tier 3 offenders.

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