Senate Bills 299 and 731 Would Eliminate Barriers to Services for Victims, Boost Economic Opportunity by Sealing Many Old Conviction Records


June 29, 2021

Contact: Will Matthews, Californians for Safety and Justice, (909) 261-1398; [email protected]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The state Assembly on Tuesday approved two pieces of legislation that will bolster the safety of California communities by ensuring all survivors of violence are able to access the services they need to heal and recover and that an old conviction record won’t prevent people from becoming productive and contributing members of their families and communities.

S.B. 731, authored by Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) and Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles) would create a comprehensive process to seal conviction and arrest records in California once a person has fully completed their sentence and gone two years without further contact with the justice system.

Supported by more than 110 groups across the business, labor, faith, law enforcement and justice reform sectors in the state, including Californians for Safety and Justice, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and many others, the bill was passed by the committee on a 6-2 vote.

S.B. 299, authored by Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino), is a first-of-its-kind bill that, if signed into law by the governor, would extend victim compensation to survivors of police violence. It also passed on a 6-2 vote.

The bill would recognize victims of police abuse and brutality as victims eligible for compensation, eliminate a requirement that victims of police violence provide a police report to prove eligibility for compensation, and limit California Victim Compensation Board denials of support to victims of police violence and families who lose a loved one to homicide based on confusing language that allows the victim to be viewed as culpable for their own victimization, injury or death.

The bill is sponsored by, among others, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, the largest network of survivors of crime in the nation and California.

“Preventing harm and violence from occurring in the first place is the key to keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe,” said Tinisch Hollins, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice and herself a survivor of crime who has lost two brothers to gun violence. “Doing that requires ensuring all victims have access to the services and support needed to heal from their trauma and that people are not permanently banished to the margins of society because of an old conviction for which they have fully completed their sentence and paid all their debts. For far too long, violence has been inflicted upon our communities by law enforcement with no accountability, creating generations of traumatized victims who are barred from accessing the help they need to heal. And instead of keeping us safe, post-conviction restrictions that in many cases never go away make it harder for Californians to rebuild productive and full lives. Both of these important bills reflect a smart and effective approach to safety that is grounded in research and data and a rejection of the failed approaches of the past. We are grateful for the leadership of Sens. Durazo, Bradfield and Leyva and look forward to these bills becoming law.”