Under a proposal by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), California is on the verge of giving people a second chance in life after they’ve served their time. The State Assembly today sent Governor Newsom AB 1076, which uses technology to automate arrest and conviction relief for those already entitled to record clearance under existing law. The current paper system is burdensome and expensive and discourages individuals from going through the process.
“A clean slate opens the doors to employment, housing and educational opportunities that help can individuals succeed and reduce the chance of recidivism. We must automate the records clearance process so former offenders can get back on their feet and lead productive lives,” said Ting. “Otherwise, our economy and society pay the price when job-seeking workers are shut out.”
“We advance public safety by removing barriers to employment, housing and educational opportunities,” said District Attorney George Gascón, who worked with Ting on this legislation. “That is why this landmark bill is so important and why we are working hard to be the first state in the country to enact it into law.”
Studies show that lack of access to jobs and housing are primary factors that drive individuals to reoffend. The obstacles to successful re-entry also disproportionately impact communities of color and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. By requiring no additional action by petitioners, AB 1076 can make the records clearance system more fair and equitable, while also improving public safety through reduced recidivism.
Amendments adopted during the legislative process now only apply automatic record clearance to individuals whose arrest occurs after January 1, 2021. AB 1076 originally included prior cases. Still, supporters say it’s a step in the right direction and will continue working to expand the process to past convictions.
“California has taken major strides towards rehabilitation, yet millions of residents who have completed their sentence, paid their debt, and remained crime free for years still have old, stale convictions on their record that lead to thousands of legal restrictions. It makes no sense to say someone is rehabilitated and then block them from housing, education, and employment. These restrictions undermine public safety and the economic viability of communities across California. Today, we are one step closer to ensuring that rehabilitation is real, communities are safe, and families are thriving. We applaud the efforts of the California State Legislature for prioritizing smart safety solutions that provide pathways to success for families all across our great state,” said Jay Jordan, Executive Director, Californians for Safety and Justice.
AB 1076 will also reduce unnecessary taxpayer costs. Under the current petition-based record clearance model, each record processed costs the system $3,757. An automated system costs 4-cents per record.
As with all bills sent to the Governor this month by the September 13th deadline, he has until October 13th to act. If signed into law, AB 1076 will require the Department of Justice to grant automatic relief to eligible individuals beginning January 1, 2021.
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