On Monday, January 13, 2020, California State Senator Nancy Skinner announced her intention to introduce Senate Bill 776, also known as the “Ban the Box for Higher Education,” which would bar California colleges and universities from asking applicants about their criminal history. The change would apply to private and public institutions.
Although California public colleges and universities do not ask about criminal history for undergraduate applicants, many of those public schools do ask graduate school applicants. Many private colleges and universities ask applicants about criminal histories for both undergrad and graduate programs.
“The longtime practice of schools asking for an applicant’s criminal history must end. It is wrong and deeply unfair,” Skinner said while announcing the legislation, “Formerly incarcerated individuals deserve a fair chance at successful reentry and the opportunity to lead productive lives.”
SB776 is scheduled for hearing on January 15, 2020. If it becomes law, California will join four other states to ban the box for higher education. This vital legislation removes a critical barrier to accessing higher education and employment for thousands of Californians with criminal records.