Reducing racial disparities in record clearance policies

Using statewide criminal history data from the California Department of Justice, we analyzed eligibility across race/ethnicity for automatic criminal record clearance under all petition-based record clearance laws, to estimate the gap between eligibility and uptake that would be closed if automatic clearance replaced the petition-based system. We found that the majority of Californians with criminal records are eligible for relief for some, but not all convictions, and that Black Californians were the least likely to be eligible for full relief. We are now investigating which exclusion criteria and offense types are driving ineligibility for full relief across race/ethnicity, and the reforms that would reduce these disparities. We are also interviewing stakeholders to examine the role of discretionary eligibility determinations in racial disparities in who receives relief. Finally, we are partnering with the California Policy Lab, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, and Code for America to evaluate the economic effects of notifying people whose marijuana convictions were automatically cleared under AB 1793.

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