California Will Allow People to Clear Criminal Records After Serving Time in Prison
California Governor Gavin Newsom will sign new legislation that will make it easier for people to clear their records after they have served time in prison.
The new law goes into effect in 2020, when California will be able to remove all criminal records from its database. People convicted of a serious crime can request that their records be removed from court, and it would take a minimum of six months to comply with the request.
The move is part of the governor’s plan to get more people into employment and housing – which has gained bipartisan support in the state. Newsom outlined the plan to California’s legislators as part of a package of proposals called the California Jobs and Justice Agenda earlier this year.
He recently testified before a Senate committee about the plan, which includes $6 million to hire 15,000 people with criminal records. The program will also offer scholarships for people who have had their records cleared.
The bill was first introduced in April, but it has been stalled in the state senate, most significantly over the issue of who should be allowed to access the database.
Newsom said Thursday that he will sign the bill into law once senators agree to waive the current backlog in clearing people’s records. He told the Guardian the new bill will benefit all Californians, but acknowledged that it will do more to help people who have actually served their time.
“This is a major step in getting people into long-term employment, housing and health care,” the governor said. “And this is something I’ve put a lot of thought into throughout my first few years in office.”
The law, he said, will “improve public safety, reduce recidivism, and make California great.”
The proposal has become controversial, however, with several politicians and advocates. In May, a panel of experts in the field said it would encourage more people to come back into the criminal justice system.
The law is being criticized because it does not clarify who is allowed to access the records, which can have a “tremendous” impact on people’s lives, said Sen. Mike McGuire