CA Lawmakers Want to Scrub Records of 8M Low-Level Offenders
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon has put an untold number of people in jail, but now he wants millions of them out of the system.
Gascon, with backing in the California state assembly, is pushing legislation to scrub criminal records automatically. If passed, the law would be the first of its kind to clear records of arrests, misdemeanors, and felonies.
Last year, the district attorney moved to expunge more than 3,000 marijuana convictions. This year, he's working on purging the records of 8 million people.
AB 1076, for automatic relief of criminal records, is designed to free people from the legal restrictions that result from their records. According to reports, these individuals are burdened with more than 40,000 legal restrictions.
Gascon said the law would clear records of arrests that did not result in convictions, as well as convictions for qualified misdemeanors. Announced as the first of its kind in the nation, the legislation would also scrub certain non-violent, non-sex felonies.
The district attorney said the information will continue to be available for criminal justice purposes. However, those records will not be used to keep people from getting housing, employment, educational loans, and other opportunities.
Jay Jordan, who was convicted of vehicle theft, said the law will help him do some simple things in life. Under current restrictions, he cannot coach little league, volunteer for the PTA, or adopt another child.
"I pay full taxes, but I cannot access full society," he told Courthouse News.
In California, residents may currently petition to have their criminal records expunged. But it is not an easy process, and many people cannot afford the time or the fees -- about $3,500.
AB 1076 would do that automatically -- for no fee.
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