Marchers Demand State Automatically Expunge 1M Convictions, Lawmakers Listen
Sacramento, CA – Hundreds of community leaders, protesters, and elected officials held a march in downtown Sacramento on Tuesday to demand the automatic expungement of criminal convictions for felons who have served their sentences.
Proponents of two Assembly-approved bills that would erase conviction records for about 1 million residents argued that criminals have too many restrictions on them, even after their sentences are served, according to the Associated Press.
San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting, the author of one of the bills, claimed that convicted criminals should not face additional restrictions if they have served their time.
"Right now, if you serve your time you still can't get housing, you still can't get work, you still get treated like a criminal," Ting said.
"Every right should be restored," State Senator Nancy Skinner agreed. "Once you've done your time, that's enough."
The rally was spearheaded by #TimeDone Executive Director Jay Jordan, KXTV reported.
"We're here to bring people from all around the state, about 500 people from nine different counties, to raise awareness about these tens of thousands of legal restrictions," Jordan declared.
Approximately 20% of California residents have criminal histories that limit their access to certain educational, housing, and job opportunities, according to KXTV.
"We're working on two bills: AB1076 and AB1331," Jordan told the news outlet. "AB1076 will automatically expunge records. AB1331 will help fix the data problem that criminal justice databases have."
The attorney general is already required to identify offenders who are eligible to have their convictions expunged due to the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana use in 2016, the Associated Press reported.
Ting’s bill would require the inclusion of certain other so-called low-level felonies and misdemeanors, and would force the attorney general to automatically expunge them instead of making convicts go through the expungement process.
But legislative analysists cautioned that implementation of the proposed legislation would costs tens of millions of dollars.
The California Law Enforcement Association of Records Supervisors, Inc. argued that those convicted of crimes already have the ability to petition for the expungement of their records.
Implementation of the proposed legislation would "unnecessarily put the burden on records management personnel, who are short staffed and without sufficient resources, to move arrest dispositions to an automated system, a very labor intensive and cost-prohibitive task," the association noted.
Jordan, a convicted felon who served eight years in prison for robbery, said he was encouraged by the number of people who came out in support of the bills on Tuesday morning, KXTV reported.
"It gives me hope. It gives me hope in humanity," he noted. "It gives me hope in the American value system. And I believe we can get this done."