ANTIOCH — Local and Contra Costa County law enforcement and public defenders are hosting an event to help residents clear their criminal records and open their paths to jobs, housing and school.
On Saturday residents who have a misdemeanor or felony conviction on their record can get a free copy of their criminal record and potentially dismiss convictions, reduce felonies to misdemeanors and get help turning their life around.
The “Clean Slate Day” event will be jointly hosted by the county public defender’s office, district attorney’s office and the Antioch police department. This year marks the first year a police department has partnered with these agencies to host the event.
“We all want the same thing. We want our community to be safe and we want them to thrive,” Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks said. “For people who’ve made mistakes in life and want to be productive members of society, this is an opportunity to clear some hurdles and navigate the challenges that stand in the way of improving their lives and breaking the cycle of recidivism.”
Brooks said that investigating and arresting people for victimizing others is important, but that society and law enforcement isn’t going to arrest its way out of a crime problem.
“I’m a huge proponent of the fact that a crime prevented is better than a crime solved,” he added.
Brooks said he first heard of the program in a meeting with District Attorney Diana Becton, who had held the first event at a church in Richmond. According to Becton, nearly a thousand applicants came through.
“It was a beautiful day, in the sense that people literally left with these amazing stories and people had tears in their eyes,” Becton said. “Their lives had changed. They could now get jobs and their driver’s licenses back. It was pretty moving and made a difference in the lives of people.”
She also remembered people who had forgotten about an old conviction coming to the event. An application for housing or loans for school brought up the old conviction and put a hurdle in their way.
According to the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction, a project by the U.S. Department of Justice and American Bar Association, there are 1,831 different consequences for conviction in California alone and 48,229 across the nation.
Approximately 72 percent of companies perform background checks and 82 percent screen potential hires for criminal histories, according to the Urban Institute. Some background check reports don’t differentiate between arrests and arrests where a person was eventually convicted of the crime.
Consequences can be legal or regulatory and can keep firearms from people convicted of domestic violence. A misdemeanor can also keep a person from working at a community care facility.
Those attending the event who take a government-issued ID can get a free Live Scan rap sheet that will show their criminal history.
For residents of Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, Solano and Santa Cruz counties looking to get a jump on their application, Code for America created a website to apply in 10 minutes. Visit www.clearmyrecord.org to learn more.
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