Uber is going to ease up on some of its driver-screening requirements in California in order to make room for people convicted of nonviolent crimes, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today. Under Proposition 47, a California ballot measure that passed in 2014, people with low-level, nonviolent felonies for things like theft, check fraud and possession of drugs can apply to remove the felony from their record and change it to a misdemeanor.
Uber’s process has previously ruled out people who may qualify to drive under Prop. 47. Starting February 1, an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch, the company will notify disqualified drivers and let them know about the process for having their felonies reclassified as misdemeanors. Uber has also partnered with Defy Ventures, an organization that provides job readiness training to felons, to help people who don’t qualify under Prop. 47 to find jobs. Uber will continue to reject people with felony convictions for violent crimes, as well as those with DUIs or misdemeanors related to intoxication.
“California voters told us when they overwhelmingly passed Proposition 47 that people with nonviolent, low-level offenses must be given a chance to get back on their feet,” Uber Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan said in a statement. “To do our part, we can make sure people have a fair chance to earn a living with Uber. Moreover, as a technology platform, we can focus on safety before, during and after each ride in ways that are more fair and effective than relying on criminal records alone.”
This means two things. People who are trying to rebuild their lives now have an opportunity to get back on their feet, and make a good amount of money while driving for Uber. This is great news for groups of people who face systemic oppression and discrimination. Black people, in case you didn’t know, get sent to prison on drug charges at more than 10x the rate of white people, according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Secondly, Uber can potentially increase the number of drivers it has on the road, though, the company told the Journal that growing its driver base is not what this is about.