A new state law that went into effect this year in California will expunge the criminal records of those arrested starting in July, regardless of whether or not they are sent to prison.
“This allows my client John, who was mistakenly arrested in Los Angeles, to return to his job and return his foster children to his home and not lose his family,” said the head of the county public defender’s office. , Ricardo Garcia.
The SB731 law of Senator María Elena Durazo, “allows my client Martha to continue as a volunteer in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at her children’s school; it allows our client Pat to finish filling out her application so she can attend college,” Garcia said.
The head of the public defenders or public defenders in Los Angeles said that “it is incredible what the SB731 law does for people”, because “it allows them to continue with their lives, now their lives are not ended by an arrest”, which in fact, Garcia said, it is sometimes wrong or unnecessary.
The lawyer said that for the Los Angeles public defender’s office, the largest in the country, the law facilitates the work of his office, because public attorneys “not only defend people by representing them in court, we also accompany them in the process of overcome the antecedents”.
Saun Hough, of Californians for Security and Justice, said that SB731, or Criminal Records Clearance Act, also helps expunge the records of those who have already served sentences and now need to move on with their lives.
Governor Gavin Newsom endorsed the law last October, it went into effect on January 1, and starting in July it will begin to get rid of criminal records that make life difficult for those who have served sentences.
It’s the first law of its kind in the country, and according to Hough it could benefit about 70,000 people in California.
Senator Durazo, a representative from Los Angeles and author of the law, explained that when Californians go to prison, they typically prepare to re-enter society when they finish their sentences, enroll in classes, learn skills, go to meetings of counseling.
“However, once they have ‘paid their debt to society’, have done everything they were told, have complied with everything expected of them, have accepted responsibility for their actions,” they often continue. problems, the senator said.
What we do with this law is “give people, their families and their children the opportunity to have a new life with economic freedom,” said the senator.
Durazo explained that the meaning of his initiative “is to transform, help with transformation, help with rehabilitation and give every human being the right to seek that freedom.”
The senator said that she is well aware of the lack of freedom, because “as a farmer from California, as the daughter of Mexicans, as the daughter of immigrants, I know of all the obstacles that are placed in front of us; the obstacles because we were poor, because we had to go from one town to another; stop. We want the freedom to choose the best we can be in life.”
Hough said that, before SB731, it was like someone who made a mistake once had to pay for it for life, as if they made it permanently.
Due to their open records, ex-convicts face difficulties getting a job, finding housing they can rent, being accepted in many places.
“The best thing that SB731 has ever done for me is have me judged by my character today, and not by a mistake I made 10, 30 or 40 years ago,” Hough said.
A Homeboy Industries coordinator, Jessica Sánchez, stated that Sen. Durazo’s state law and the work of her organization complement each other.
Homeboy Industries is the largest organization of its kind in the world, said Sánchez, “we believe that every human being has the right to redo itself, because each person is much more than the biggest of their mistakes,” he explained.
Each year more than 10,000 former Los Angeles gang members apply to Homeboy Industries to rehabilitate with work, according to the organization.
The leader of Californians for Security and Justice said that “although we know that the work of expunging records by the SB731 law begins in July, the petition campaign begins here and now.”
Some representatives of the office of public defenders were helping members of Homeboy Industries fill out their applications on Friday after the press conference ended on the steps of City Hall.