April 20, 2013 – The California State Senate Committee heard testimony from Foundation Chairman Mathew Higbee about the opportunity to achieve significant public policy objectives by expanding California’s expungement law. Higbee said reduced recidivism and lower crime rates were two important benefits that California could realize if more former offenders were able to clear their criminal record.
The committee was hearing testimony about SB 530, which is sponsored by State Senator Roderick Wright.
Higbee explained to the committee that, despite California’s many innovative programs designed to help former offenders, California’s expungement law still leaves many former offenders set-up to fail.
“In many ways, California is very progressive and innovative when it comes to helping former offenders. We provide drug treatment, continuing education, job training and even tattoo removal. But California does not remove the one thing that many other states do, and that is the label of criminal. California’s law governing expungement and other post-conviction remedies are inadequate, as a result, all of those investments in rehabilitation and training are marginalized— leading to unnecessary unemployment, under-employment, and waste of human capital,” said Higbee.
The current version of SB 530 expands the eligibility for certificate of rehabilitation and codifies a regulation that prohibits employers from discriminating against people with an expunged conviction. Higbee says that the bill will likely be amended to provide bigger benefits to more people.
“I am expecting the bill to create a new legal remedy that will allow some offenders to have convictions removed from their Department of Justice report, commonly know as a Live Scan report,” said Higbee.