California bill would seal millions of criminal records to help former offenders find work

A bill recently introduced in California’s legislature would seal millions of criminal convictions, a move that could help low-level offenders find work, housing and education.

The legislation was introduced by Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, and it is also being pushed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

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The bill would require the state to clear misdemeanor convictions and records of other low-level offenders once they complete their jail sentences. The law would not apply to those convicted of crimes such as murder and rape, according to The New York Times.

The legislation would make California the first state to automatically seal such convictions, and it could affect 8 million individuals.

Gascón said at a recent press conference that criminal records would still be available to law enforcement, but not to the rest of the public.

“It really impacts the ability for the general public to get this information. … Landlords, employers, schools,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “It still allows law enforcement to have this information in case they re-offend.”

Under the legislation, California’s Department of Justice would be required to make a database of the millions of cases that are eligible to be cleared, according to the AP. The department would then need to send those cases to local courts throughout the state.

Ting told the AP that there has been a focus in San Francisco on the “rehabilitation” of low-level criminal offenders and that this bill would help give those people a “fresh start.”

“Rehabilitation begins with a fresh start,” he added. “You can’t get a fresh start with something still on your record.”

thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/433521-california-bill-would-seal-millions-of-criminal-records

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