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.


Personal History Statement (PHS)

The Personal History Statement (PHS) is an extensive document used to collect personal information regarding an applicant’s current and past life history.

Candidates will retrieve the PHS using the request email box below and complete, print, and turn in the PHS at their scheduled physical fitness test including all required documents listed below and stated on page 1 of the PHS form. All candidates must submit their completed and signed PHS with a notarized “Authorization for Release of Information” (page 4).

  • Original Certified U.S. Birth Certificate / Original Certified Naturalization Certificate
  • Documents reflecting any name changes from your Birth Certificate.  For example, marriage certificate, divorce decrees, court adoption documents, etc.
  • Certified and Sealed Original High School Transcripts or Certified Proof of GED or passing California High School Proficiency Examination
  • Certified and Sealed College Transcripts from any colleges or universities attended
  • Copy of current/valid automobile insurance
  • If you served in the Military, provide a copy of your DD214, Military Discharge Form (Member 4, long form)

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 their investigatory file. All additional required documents shall be submitted to their assigned regional field office:

Northern Field Office

9838 Old Placerville Rd., Suite B
Sacramento, CA 95827
Attn: BIU

Central Field Office

5168 N. Blythe Ave., Suite 101
Fresno, CA 93722
Attn: BIU

Southern Field Office

9055 Haven Ave., Suite 100
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Attn: BIU

PHS Instructional Guide

It is strongly recommended that candidates read the PHS Instructional Guide prior to submitting the PHS Form.

Request PHS Form (CDCR 1902)

Provide your email address and the PHS form will be emailed to you.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

If you do not receive this file via email, check your Spam/Junk folder.  You may need to move the email from your Junk/Spam folder to your main inbox to view the form. If you need assistance, please call the 916-255-2500.
Note: If you receive a permissions error do not use the Edit PDF tool; instead, you may fill out the document by typing directly into the entry fields.

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.