Background Investigation

Government Code Section 1031

Government Code Section 1031 requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to determine that “peace officer candidates are of good moral character, as determined by a thorough background investigation.” Civil Code 1798.15 requires that “personal information shall be collected to the greatest extent practical.” Additionally, Labor Code Section 432.7 requires that you disclose arrests or detentions which did or did not result in conviction, as well as referral to and participation in pretrial diversion programs.


The background investigation process consists of a thorough background investigation into each applicant’s past and current:

  • employment
  • residence history
  • relationships
  • credit responsibility
  • criminality
  • computerized voice stress analysis
  • fingerprint search

During this process CDCR will contact personal references, employers, education institutions, and law enforcement agencies to determine your suitability to become a peace officer.


Priority Hiring Request Form

CDCR has immediate Correctional Officer hiring needs at the following institutions.  Recruitment and retention salary incentives will be paid to persons accepting positions at the institutions listed below. Although processing times will vary, priority processing may result in an earlier hire date.

  • Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP)
  • High Desert State Prison (HDSP)
  • California Correctional Center at Susanville (CCC)
  • Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP)
  • California State Prison, San Quentin (SQ)

If you are willing to work at one more of these institutions, complete the Priority Hiring Form and submit with your PHS.

Background Investigation Questionnaire (BIQ)

Prior to moving into the background investigation process, every candidate passing the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) will receive an email directing them to complete a survey questionnaire also known as the BIQ. Failure to complete the survey questionnaire may delay the processing of your background investigation. 

Electronic Statement of Personal History (eSOPH)

Once the candidate moves into the background investigation process they will receive an email directing them to create a profile in eSOPH. Once the profile is created, the candidate will be prompted to complete the Personal History Statement (known in eSOPH as Questionnaires). For more information on the Personal History Statement continue reading below.


Personal History Statement (PHS)

The PHS is an extensive document used to collect personal information regarding a candidate’s current and past life history.

All candidates must complete and submit the PHS questionnaire via eSOPH. The candidate must print the “Authorization for Release of Information” (which is contained in eSOPH as an agreement), fill out the form, have it notarized and upload their notarized “Authorization for Release of Information” into eSOPH. The candidate will also upload the following documents via eSOPH with the exception of documents required to be “sealed” or verified original.

  • Documents reflecting any name changes from your Birth Certificate.  For example, marriage certificate, divorce decrees, court adoption documents, etc.
  • Current/valid automobile insurance card.
  • If you served in the Military, provide a copy of your DD-214, Military Discharge Form (Member 4, long form).

The candidate will be required to bring the following original documents to their assigned Background Investigation Unit.  See below for address.

  • Original Certified U.S. Birth Certificate/Original Certified Naturalization Certificate/U.S. Passport (bring original and a copy).
  • Certified and sealed original high school transcripts from the high school you graduated from or Certified proof of GED or passing California High School Proficiency Examination.
  • Certified and sealed college transcripts from any colleges or universities attended.

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, some candidates may not be able to obtain the original required documents due to school closures or other uncontrollable events. If certain original documents are not available, please submit copies of such documents for the background investigation to begin.  However, the original documents are required to complete the background investigation.

Candidates who do not provide required documents and/or information will be notified of a due date to complete the eSOPH profile and submit the necessary documents via eSOPH. All questions can be answered by contacting regional field office near your area of residence:

Northern Field Office

9838 Old Placerville Rd., Suite B
Sacramento, CA 95827
Attn: BIU
(916) 255-2500

Central Field Office

5168 N. Blythe Ave., Suite 101
Fresno, CA 93722
Attn: BIU
(559) 650-2341

Southern Field Office

9055 Haven Ave., Suite 100
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Attn: BIU
(909) 944-6676

PHS Instructional Guide

It is strongly recommended candidates read the agreements contained in eSOPH prior to the completion and submission of the PHS Form via eSOPH.

Request PHS Form (CDCR 1902)

  • All correctional officer candidates will submit the PHS electronically through eSOPH.
  • For all other peace officer candidates, please contact your nearest Testing Center to request a copy of the Personal History Statement Form.
    • Northern (916) 255-1025
    • Central (559) 277-7154
    • Southern (909) 944-6697

All responses to questions answered within the submitted PHS will be verified through the background investigation and Computerized Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) examination.


CVSA Examination/Fingerprinting (Live Scan)

As part of the background investigation process, all candidates will be required to submit to a CVSA examination. The CVSA examination is used to verify the veracity and accuracy of information submitted by candidates regarding, but not necessarily limited to: use of controlled substances, driving, criminal history, employment history, and other suitability factors.

Candidates will be fingerprinted by Live Scan as a required part of the background investigation. Each fingerprint is scanned into a computer database at the Department of Justice and checked against criminal records nationwide. Information received may include charges that have been dismissed.

It takes approximately 90 days to complete the background investigation. A complex background investigation, or a background investigation with serious issues, may exceed the 90-day timeframe.


Drug Usage

Illegal Drug Activity – An applicant’s experimental use of marijuana or other drugs may not be a disqualifying factor. The recency, frequency, and specific circumstances of illegal drug activity will be evaluated to determine suitability for employment as a peace officer.

Marijuana Use – The use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes is considered illegal drug use as mandated by the federal government. 

CDCR recognizes some qualified applicants may have used illegal drugs, or abused legal drugs or substances, at some point in their past;  application of CDCR’s drug use policy guidelines, in conjunction with case-by-case analysis, will determine if an applicant’s prior drug usage or activity will result in the applicant’s non-selection for employment with the CDCR.  All applicants are required to disclose their current and past drug usage and activity.  An applicant will not be selected for employment if he or she deliberately misrepresents his or her drug history in connection with his or her application for employment. For CDCR’s policy regarding marijuana, review the Frequently Asked Questions.

For more information on the Background Investigation read the Frequently Asked Questions.