California has introduced a new bill, SB 731, which would retroactively seal the criminal records of the formerly incarcerated who go two years without further contact with the criminal justice system, as well as records of arrest without conviction.
This measure is in response to a recent study indicating that California loses more than $20 billion annually due to unemployment resulting from prior records of conviction. This number represents the impact of the greater than 2.5 million Californians living with felony convictions in 2018, of which two-thirds of convictions were more than 10 years old.
Those with a prior record of incarceration often suffer from unemployment, with nearly 75% still unemployed one year after release. Further, a study showed that 27% of all those formerly incarcerated, regardless of when are unemployed.
SB 731 aims to change that by lowering the impact of former records on employment decisions. The bill’s sponsors hope that this will lower the barriers to reentry and also give an economic boost to California’s strained economy.