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, to estimate the gap between eligibility and uptake that would be closed if automatic clearance replaced the current petition-based system. We find that one in five people with convictions meet criteria for full conviction relief. Relative to whites, however, a higher share of Black Californians are excluded based on their criminal records, reproducing racial disparities in criminal records. We then identify two policy amendments that would substantially reduce the share of Black men with convictions in California, and illustrate the ability of these policy changes to successfully minimize disparities.

Policy Report:
1 in 8 Californians with a Criminal Record is Potentially Eligible for Full Record Clearance

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