In California, new legislation has been introduced that would hide arrest and conviction records allowing formerly incarcerated people to restart their lives without stigma.
The Los Angeles Times reports California Assemblyman Phil Ting (D) introduced the AB 1076 bill in February. The bill would require California to erase arrest records for all arrests that didn't lead to convictions after the statute of limitations ended. Convictions that led to prison would also be wiped out as long as the convicted person fulfilled their sentence. Sex offenders would not be eligible for the fresh starts offered by the bill.
Proponents of the bill hope to help Californians with histories of arrest and prison time to have more opportunities for employment, housing and education.
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Ting's office reports 90 percent of employers, 80 percent of landlords and 60 percent of colleges use background checks when reviewing a candidate. Having prison time in one's background is often enough to be taken out of consideration.
“The whole point is they paid their debt, they served their time," said Ting. "Once they get out they should be able to start over. Once they’re out, why should they continue to suffer?”
Over 8 million California residents have criminal convictions. Approximately 380,000 people who are currently in the system would be helped immediately by the bill.
Weeks after its release, the bill is picking up high-profile supporters, including San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.
“It’s a way to get people out of the paper prison they get sucked into once they have an arrest record or conviction,” Gascon said. “When you remove the ability for people to participate fully in their community — employment, housing, education, other activities — you marginalize them until they’re left with no hope."
The New York Times reports the proposal is likely to pass the state's legislatures and expected to be signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. According to The Daily Wire, once signed, the bill would go into effect on January 1, 2021.
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