SACRAMENTO, Calif — He works as a program director for a nonprofit organization. He has a wife, a child and a home. Jay Jordan would describe his life as fairly normal, despite the fact he can't be as involved as he would like to.
Jordan was convicted 15 years ago and his arrest and criminal record continue to haunt him. He cannot be a part of his child's Parent Teacher Association or his Home Owner's Association. He cannot coach his son's little league.
Jordan said that he could get his record cleaned according to California law, but with current obstacles, it isn't a simple process. That is why he is in support of a new bill introduced to the California Legislature.
“There are over 8 million people, in California alone, with old convictions who just want to better their lives, but who are rejected and turned away,” Jordan said. “I’ve paid the price for my mistakes."
Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Fransico) introduced legislation Feb. 21 that would allow for an automated process of clearing arrest and conviction records.
Assembly Bill 1076 makes the process of relieving people of their arrest and conviction records much easier and efficient, Jordan says. Ting wrote the bill so that it would require the California Department of Justice to create a process that would automate giving relief to people who already qualify.
People that qualify for this program include people who were convicted and completed their sentence or parole and people who were arrested but never convicted.
Jordan said that currently the impediments to him and others in similar situations getting records cleared are:
- multitudes of paperwork
- the ununiformed process
The nonprofit organization Jordan works for, Californians for Safety and Justice, and the San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascon, are sponsors of this bill.
"I was automatically charged, automatically convicted, automatically sent to prison, and automatically released on parole. Now, when it comes time for me to get my full citizenship back, that should be automatic too," Jordan said.
Jordan explained that the process to get his record cleared would require a lawyer to make sure all of the various paperwork is filled out correctly. He would need to complete the process in the county where he was convicted, which is now around 450 miles away.
Jordan and Ting both point out that the current process also places a strain on the courts' resources and is costly to the counties and state personnel used in completing the current record-clearance process which could take years to complete.
Below is a fact sheet about the bill:
The San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office can now get through 200,000 lines of conviction data in only 30 seconds. A task that they previously had to do manually. The new technology is meant to help people earn a second chance to get jobs and housing by clearing past convictions.