California, as one of the largest states, also has some of the largest number of ex-cons. As part of the process to bring real criminal justice reform to the state, Proposition 47 was passed in 2014. It was created in order to help reduce penalties for non-violent crimes while also helping those convicted of felonies get a second chance.
Santa Cruz Public Defender Cassie Licker helps some of her clients prepare themselves for the process. She says that it is "an opportunity for people to move beyond the worst mistake they've ever made. If everyone was defined by the worst mistake they ever made, we wouldn't get anywhere."
More than 11,000 Californians in Santa Cruz County alone could benefit from Proposition 47. Imagine the numbers throughout the entire state. Attorney Licker pointed out that one of her clients has "been out now for years and [is] trying to find a job. He's gotten multiple commercial licenses, he's gotten certified in a bunch of areas and he's applied for six jobs now, and can't get beyond a minimum wage position."
There are other issues with having a record that go beyond the job search. Licker points out that "It can affect you and your family as you're trying to find housing. It can affect people trying to access benefits, professional licensing, and vocational opportunities. The list goes on."
Californians should use free resources to find out if they qualify. Anyone that charges for this kind of review is taking advantage of someone who is already hurting. Attorney Licker even points out that "organizations should be representing those different areas and helping people connect to resources."