- Category: Criminal Justice
JOURNAL PUBLICATION: Racial Equity in Eligibility for a Clean Slate under Automatic Criminal Record Relief Laws
(Forthcoming in Law and Society Review, August 2022)
Editor’s note: CPL’s Data Point estimated the number of existing arrests and convictions potentially eligible for automatic relief, based on the Assembly Bill 1076 bill language at the time of writing (August 2019) that would have retroactively granted relief for eligible arrests and convictions occurring on or after January 1, 1973. However, prior to becoming law, Assembly Bill 1076 was amended to only grant relief for new arrests and convictions occurring on or after January 1, 2021. The law was again amended in June 2021 through the 2022 budget bill and eligibility was made retroactive to all arrests or convictions occurring on or after January 1, 1973.
July 2022 Update: The journal publication cited above projects the impact of adopting specific policy changes to AB 1076 to expand automatic relief eligibility to also include cases where judges currently have discretion. The authors also project the impact of implementing a seven-year sunset rule. Both changes would reduce racial disparities in who benefits from automatic record clearance.
Assembly Bill 1076 proposed to extend automatic record clearance in California to certain eligible arrests and convictions. Under the law, California Department of Justice (CA DOJ) would, beginning in 2023, identify persons eligible for relief and grant relief without requiring the person to file a petition. The California Policy Lab (CPL) created a computer program to identify eligible arrests and convictions using CA DOJ’s Automated Criminal History System (ACHS). The authors found that 1 in 8 Californians with a criminal record are potentially eligible to have their full record cleared. Further, approximately 81% of persons with a criminal record are potentially eligible for relief of at least one arrest or conviction (approximately 1.8 million persons in the study cohort).