Finding a job might become easier for people with prior convictions on their record if the San Joaquin County District Attorney has her way.
On Monday, Tori Verber Salazar announced that her office had partnered with the office of progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Assemblyman Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat, to introduce legislation that would “build upon past efforts to provide relief to people living with past convictions.”
Assembly Bill 2978, which was introduced on Feb. 21, would largely aim to clear the record of people who have been arrested but never convicted of a crime or the person meets a preset criteria that only applies to those who were arrested after January 1, 1973. Completion of prefiling diversion programs, including pretrial diversion and drug diversion programs, would qualify under the law for removal from one’s criminal record.
Automatic conviction relief would not apply to somebody who is required to register pursuant to the Sex Offender Registry Act, or somebody that is still on active supervision – whether that be on the local, state, or federal level. The clearing of the past conviction would not apply to somebody applying to be a law enforcement official in the State of California – any past convictions would to be disclosed – and law enforcement agencies would still have access to databases that show the conviction history.
The idea behind the move, Verber Salazar said, is a proactive approach at preventing crime by empowering those would otherwise be ineligible from employment with the opportunity for a job.
“It’s going to cost you a very good attorney and about $10,000 and at least a year of your time,” Verber Salazar said in a release about the legislation. “I stand here today saying this is one of the best victim prevention tools that we have – clearing records can help an individual find employment instead of turning to crime.”
Earlier this year Verber Salazar announced that she would be leaving the California District Attorney’s Association, which lobbies on behalf DAs throughout California and provides specialized training for prosecutors, because the statewide body had not, in her opinion, embraced the criminal justice reform that California voters had enacted over the course of the last decade.
The organization had fought unsuccessfully to stop Proposition 36 in 2012 – which would have modified California’s three strikes law to ensure that only a violent or serious felony qualified as a third strike – as well as Proposition 47, which reclassified a number of nonviolent felonies as misdemeanors, and Proposition 57, which allowed parole for certain nonviolent and modified the youth criminal justice system in the State of California.
The office-wide cancellation of membership to the statewide organization was replaced, Verber Salazar reported, with membership in the National District Attorneys Association and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.