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Uber Offers Job of Drivers to Nonviolent Criminal Offenders in California

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(Credit: Justin Chin/Bloomberg/Getty Images) Applicants line up outside an Uber Technologies Inc. office during a driver recruitment event in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. Uber is in the process of further padding its war chest with as much as $2.1 billion in a financing round valuing the company at $62.5 billion, people familiar with the matter said this month. Uber Technologies Inc. Holds Drivers Recruitment Event
January 14
9:59 AM 2016

Uber Technologies Inc. has announced on Wednesday making its driver- screening requisites softer to some non violent criminals in California. Those who have served prison sentences and now trying to reform their lives are the probable beneficiaries of the softened guidelines.

As per the proposed guideline, the car hailing service will accept applications intending to be appointed as drivers in the state who has been rejected earlier due to certain nonviolent or nonsexual offences. Such offences have been narrated in an interview as petty theft or check frauds by Joe Sulivan, Uber Chief Security Officer, reports Bloomberg.

Uber is also planning to inform the rejected driver applicants due to felony convictions to adopt necessary steps for downgrading their criminal records. Proposition 47, a Californian law, allows nonviolent offenders to reduce their conviction record to misdemeanor through submission of applications by November 4, 2017.

Through adopting this measure, Uber appears in a race to sign up as many drivers as possible. Far from business rationale, it is probably aiming to pitch it as a community benefit, describes San Francisco Business Times quoting Evan Raw, an associate professor of business at Columbia Business School.

Uber's move appears in such a moment when it fights a lawsuit filed by elected district attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The suit accuses Uber for failing to find out criminal background of its hired drivers. Consequently registered sex offenders, identity thieves, burglars, a kidnapper and a convicted murderer have become able to find places as drivers using the loophole.

Safety is the first priority and background checking system is according to the industry standard used by taxi companies, claims Uber. The taxi company uses a service naming Checkr Inc. in California for drivers' background checking. Checkr runs a security trace of the subject through address and matches conviction records for the past seven years.

Uber is joining a growing number of U.S. businesses that have reformed their hiring practices to accept more workers with criminal backgrounds. However, this has been referred as a good job opportunity offered by Uber for the just released inmates who need more than one job, reports The Wall Street Journal quoting Mark Loranger, president of Chrysalis, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that helps homeless and former convicts in finding employment.

More than 30 states including California have enforced new law to restrain prison populations since 2007. Despite of the efforts made by the states, 54.3% inmates released from California prisons during 2009 to 2010, have reportedly returned to prisons within the following three years.

In 2007, unlike 30 other US states, California has changed policies to reduce prison population. But more than half of the released inmates return to the prisons within the next three years. Following the state precedence, Uber has announced on Wednesday to soften its policy in recruiting drivers with nonviolent criminal offences. Despite facing criticisms from different quarters, Uber's move appears to social improvement effort rather than business gaining.

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