The East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) on April 2 joined U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-California) and others as she hosted the first summit on the expungement of Alameda County criminal records. Representatives from the offices of the county’s district attorney; public defender; probation department; superior court; and All of Us or None, a legal services group for prisoners with children, also attended. Lawmakers, advocates and constituents met at the summit to discuss long-term policy changes to address barriers faced by ex-offenders returning to the community and pursuing work, housing and education. Expungement allows former felons or people convicted of a misdemeanor to clear their criminal records to help them stabilize their lives and those of their families. It can allow ex-offenders to say truthfully that they don’t have a conviction on their records when they apply for a job. California law allows those who have served their time, completed probation and paid any fines or restitution to apply.
The summit was a huge success, with 80 volunteer attorneys–three-quarters of them Boalt alumni–assisting more than 700 ex-offenders trying to move on with their lives. The Alameda County Superior Court also publicly expunged the records of nearly 100 ex-offenders at the summit. Congresswomen Lee raised criminal records expungement at a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus on April 6.
The clinic will continue to assist many of these individuals, including at a self-help center at the courthouse two days a week, beginning in May. EBCLC will also continue to work with Congresswoman Lee and others to develop a set of policy recommendation for re-entry and reintegration of ex-offenders. EBCLC’s extensive involvement in the summit and with the issue of expungement was featured in a March 21 Oakland Tribune article. A March 31 San Francisco Chronicle article also discusses the issue and the April 2 meeting.
The summit took place at Laney College in Oakland. For more information, please visit EBCLC’s website. EBCLC, the community-based component of Boalt Hall’s clinical program, was founded by Boalt students in 1988 to deliver legal services to low-income residents and to provide an opportunity for students to gain practical experience.