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Group urges Bay Area residents to expunge old convictions

Michael Grimes
Flickr / Creative Commons

Senate Bill 731, passed last fall, makes California the first state in the nation to allow people to permanently expunge old convictions on their criminal records.

To be eligible, people must be released from prison and finish parole and be crime-free for four years. Misdemeanor and non-serious felony convictions will automatically be expunged under the law, and people with serious felonies are able to petition a judge to expunge those convictions.

More than a million Californians -- and thousands of Bay Area residents -- will be permitted to seal the convictions from their record that may have prevented them from finding employment, housing and education. The hope is to make it easier for people to have a fresh start after a prison sentence.

Tinisch Hollins, executive director of the advocacy group Californians for Safety and Justice, told Bay City News "SB 731 tears down the systematic disenfranchisement and employment barriers faced by millions of Californians living with an old conviction record that disproportionately impacts people of color."

Rather than keeping Californians safe, Hollins argued that “the thousands of restrictions faced by Californians living with an old conviction record make it harder for these community members to rebuild productive and full lives."

City leaders joined advocates of people with criminal records at a news conference in San Francisco on Tuesday to remind the estimated 25,000 eligible San Francisco residents that resources are available to seek expungement.