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Santa Barbara County Residents Clear Criminal Records with Help from People’s Justice Project, California Rural Legal Assistance, UCSB Pre-Law Society and Isla Vista Community Services District

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September 12, 2022
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SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. — Santa Barbara-based People’s Justice Project (PJP), California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA), UCSB’s Pre-Law Society (UCSBPLS), and Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD) will host a free legal Clean Slate Clinic for citizens eligible for criminal record expungement, felony reduction, and arrest record sealing at the Isla Vista Community Center at 976 Embarcadero del Mar, Isla Vista, CA 93117.

 

This in-person clinic will have two sessions: (1) Information Session and Sign-Ups; and (2) Clean Slate Clinic.

 

The Information Session and Sign-Ups event will take place on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.

 

The Clean Slate Clinic will take place on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.

 

At the information session on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, individuals seeking services will be advised of certain eligibility requirements:

 

 

 

 

 

  • Individuals currently serving a sentence for any offense are not eligible for expungement.
  • Individuals currently on probation for any offense are not eligible for expungement.
  • Individuals currently charged with any offense, and the case is still pending or unresolved, are not eligible for expungement.
  • Certain sex crimes involving children and certain serious or violent felonies are not eligible for expungement.

If you are interested in clearing your criminal record, please contact PJP at (805) 242-6692, CRLA at (805) 902-CRLA or email reentry@crla.org.

 

You can also come to one of our tabling events, held every Monday and Wednesday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in front of the Starbucks at 888 Embarcadero del Norte, Isla Vista, CA 93117.

 

“The purpose of the Clean Slate Clinic is to help eliminate a barrier to employment and housing for individuals who have criminal records. A criminal record—no matter how old or how minor—can be an unjust barrier to reentry for people when most employers, property managers and universities use background checks to screen applicants,” said Joseph Doherty, Managing Attorney at CRLA’s Central Coast Homeless Prevention Collaborative and President of Santa Barbara-based People’s Justice Project.

 

Additionally, even a misdemeanor conviction or probation violation disqualifies a person from a wide range of benefits and opportunities. Under federal law, any probation violation for any type of misdemeanor disqualifies an individual from welfare benefits, including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, low-income housing, and Supplemental Security Income for the elderly and disabled. The consequences of a drug misdemeanor conviction are particularly harsh and can include the loss of health-care coverage, welfare, and student financial aid.

 

Record clearance is crucial to ensuring that the collateral consequences that stem from a criminal record are eliminated or significantly reduced for the millions of individuals trying to rebuild their lives toward a successful future. Criminal record expungement confers numerous benefits for individuals convicted of certain misdemeanors and felonies. When applying for a job, individuals who successfully expunge their criminal record can lawfully answer “No” if asked whether they have been convicted of a crime. Moreover, an employer is not permitted to consider an expunged conviction that is discovered through a background check in making a hiring decision.

 

An expungement also benefits those seeking state professional licenses. To be sure, even after an expungement in many circumstances, an individual must disclose a conviction in response to a question posed in an application for a state license (e.g., a contractor license or real estate license) or in an application for public office. However, many licensing agencies are more likely to look favorably upon individuals who have successfully completed probation and whose convictions have been expunged.  Further, under California law, “a person shall not be denied a license on the basis of any conviction, or on the basis of any acts underlying the conviction” if the conviction has been dismissed.  

 

“Another benefit of this work that we have seen is that our clients who get their expungement petitions granted are not returning to the criminal justice system,” said Renee Lizarraga, Staff Attorney at Santa Barbara-based People’s Justice Project. “The added stability that comes from obtaining employment and housing can go a long way to reducing rates of recidivism, as well as improving the quality of the client’s life overall.”

 

“A criminal record represents a substantial and enduring obstacle standing in the way of individuals who have served their time,” said Alyssa Rodriguez, Philanthropy Chair of the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Pre-Law Society. “By expunging criminal records, our Society helps our community members become full, productive members of society once again and move past their prior offenses,” she said.

 

“Record Clearing services allow individuals to obtain equal access to legal representation and justice,” said Gabriella Sterritt, Former President of University of California, Santa Barbara’s Pre-Law Society. “Often our community members state they had lost hope in ever seeking expungement as they did not believe they were eligible, nor did they believe it was achievable,” she said.

 

“Our community members feel heard and seen through the expungement process, a feeling that many had never felt before,” said Dan Chu, Current President of University of California, Santa Barbara’s Pre-Law Society. “An expungement grants our community members the ability to continue with their lives and positively contribute to our society,” he said.

 

The California Policy Lab estimates nearly 1 in every 8 Californians with a criminal record is potentially eligible to obtain a full criminal record expungement; 81% of Californians with a criminal record are estimated to be eligible to have at least one prior arrest or conviction expunged.  

 

“By partnering with PJP, CRLA, and UCSBPLS to assist individuals eligible for criminal record expungement, IVCSD demonstrates its commitment to economic opportunity across Santa Barbara County’s diverse communities,” said Sydney Casler, Community Engagement Director at Isla Vista Community Services District.

 

“This event will spread awareness and information to individuals in our community who may not know they are eligible for free services,” said Myah Mashhadialireza, Community Spaces Program Manager at Isla Vista Community Services District.  “We value our partnership with PJP, CRLA and UCSBPLS, and are proud to participate in this important community initiative.”

 

UCSB Pre-law Society members Gabriella Herrera, Alyssa Rodriguez, and Marisa Hartwick
Pictured: UCSB Pre-law Society members Gabriella Herrera, Alyssa Rodriguez, and Marisa Hartwick

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About People's Justice Project (PJP)

People’s Justice Project is a Santa Barbara- based non-profit law firm that protects the civil rights, liberties, and dignity of all Central Coast of California residents through the provision of high-quality legal and social services, including (1) civil rights litigation, (2) screening for U.S. citizenship eligibility, applying for U.S. citizenship, and other immigration law services, and (3) criminal defense litigation, including post-conviction services. For more information, please visit www.peoplesjusticeproject.org.

 

About California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.

California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) provides free legal services and education to tens of thousands of low-income residents of California’s rural counties and litigates cases that benefit even more people. We help our clients get fair pay for their hard work, find and stay in safe housing, access healthcare, ensure quality education for their children, and more. Our vision is a rural California where all people are treated with dignity and respect and guaranteed their fundamental rights. For more information, please visit crla.org.

 

About Isla Vista Community Services District

The Isla Vista Community Services District is Isla Vista’s first broad based local government, achieving 47 years of community advocacy for self governance. The IVCSD is empowered to provide eight critical services including public safety, housing mediation, community facilities, parking, graffiti abatement, lighting and sidewalks, and both a municipal advisory council and area planning commission. The Board is composed of five publicly elected directors and two directors appointed by UC Santa Barbara and the County of Santa Barbara.

 

 

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