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When people with convictions have served their time and otherwise paid their debt to society, they deserve a fair chance at becoming stable & productive members of their community and afforded the opportunity to take care of themselves and their families. The long shadow cast by the extreme and lifetime consequences of a conviction isolates, rather than integrates, people into society. Removing legal barriers will improve public safety, and it will also improve economic and health outcomes for families and reduce the likelihood individuals will re-offend. This would ultimately make California a more prosperous and safe state for everyone. Reform is needed to provide California with a holistic solution that will end debilitating collateral consequences across all sectors.

 
 
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RECOMMENDATION 1: SUNSET CONVICTIONS: END LIFELONG PUNISHMENT BEYOND CONVICTION

California must end its current system that imposes punishments—through lifelong collateral consequences—far beyond sentence completion. The fairest and effective approach is to adopt uniform policies that call for automatic, mandatory destruction, or “purging,” of stale arrests or criminal history information upon conclusion of a sentence or when a person has remained crime-free for a specified time.


RECOMMENDATION 2: CONSOLIDATE THE “EXPUNGEMENT” PROCESS

California’s existing “clean slate” laws are complicated and fail to effectively remove collateral consequences. California must replace its outdated system with a new, comprehensive remedy that includes a unified process rather than the dozens of existing processes. The remedy would require a single filing for a given petitioner, not separate filings for multiple cases and would include reporting protections.

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RECOMMENDATION 3: REDUCE BARRIERS TO OBTAINING OCCUPATIONAL LICENSES

To ensure that all qualified people are given a fair chance to pursue careers, and to strengthen California’s workforce, licensing boards should be permitted to use criminal history only when that criminal history is plausibly related to a person’s ability to successfully work in the licensed profession. Specifically, licensing boards should not be permitted to deny a license for most felony convictions older than seven years and misdemeanor convictions older than three years.

RECOMMENDATION 4: FUND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AGENCIES AND JOB PLACEMENT PROGRAMS

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Funds dedicated to workforce development programs, reentry, and rehabilitation should be extended to people with conviction records who are not under supervision. Additionally, funding should be expanded to include substance abuse assistance, temporary and overnight housing, community college and vocational education programs, expungements and clean slate remedies, and supportive services.


RECOMMENDATION 5: REDUCE AUTOMATIC IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES

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Immigrants with California convictions should not suffer mandatory, permanent, and lifetime banishment from the United States. Tearing immigrant families apart on the basis of a family member’s criminal history destabilizes communities, decreasing public safety. California needs to pursue real policy reform by expanding the legal vehicles to vacate old convictions and decreasing the hurdles for immigrants to erase or mitigate the ongoing and lifelong damage that can be caused by even a single low-level conviction.


RECOMMENDATION 6: REDUCE CRIMINAL JUSTICE DEBT

Californians are subject to fines and fees at every stage of the criminal justice process. It is critical for California to reduce the number and amount of financial obligations facing people with convictions, as well as provide greater relief for those struggling to make payments on court-ordered debt or the associated costs (interest, late fees, collection fees, etc.). indigent defendants should be exempt from user fees (i.e., fines imposed for the sole purpose of raising revenue) and any court-ordered fines or victim restitution should be based on an individual’s ability to pay. Additional pressures such as arrest warrants and driver license restrictions should be eliminated and more opportunities should be offered to reduce debt through community service and other exemption waivers.

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