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SLO County 'Clean Slate Clinic' helps clear residents’ records

Clean Slate Clinic, June 2023
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 23, 2023

The second annual SLO ‘Clean Slate Clinic’ was held Friday, allowing SLO County residents to, if needed, potentially clear low-level criminal history from their records.

The event, held at the SLO County Law Library from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is meant to help eliminate a major barrier to employment and housing for individuals with records holding relatively minor criminal offenses — drastically improving quality of life.

"It’s important to look at the individual, what they have done, the circumstances they are under,” Deputy District Attorney Natalya Ferdinandi told KSBY. “Ultimately, at the direction of [District Attorney] Dan Dow, we are supposed to really give people the benefit of the doubt and that's what we were told when we got this assignment. And things are on the side of expungement and that people have served their time and they can be productive members of that community."

The expungement process can be time-consuming and paperwork intensive, according to Dow. The team at the clinic, which consists of a handful of different organizations throughout the county, is there to help with that process.

It’s more than a one-day process. An expungement begins with a defense attorney making a recommendation to the probation department which then moves up to the district attorney. An expungement is made final when a judge gives the OK.

KSBY saw over 30 individuals in the area of the Law Library around 1 p.m. It was unclear how many of those were there for the expungement services and how many would use the services across the day.

The first SLO Clean Slate Clinic, held in March, had over 100 attendees.

The California Policy Lab estimates nearly 1 in 8 Californians with a criminal record is potentially eligible to obtain a full criminal record expungement and 81% of Californians with a criminal record are estimated to be eligible to have at least one prior arrest or conviction expunged, the DA’s office said in a press release announcing the event.

“Criminal records can make it very difficult for people to get jobs and housing after incarceration,” Dan Dow, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney, said in the release. “We are proud to work with our community partners to help with the time-consuming and paperwork-intensive process of expunging criminal records and helping folks get on track to leading productive and engaged lives. The added stability that comes from obtaining employment and housing help reduce rates of recidivism which improves the overall quality of life in our community.

The SLO County DA’s Office, San Luis Obispo County Probation Department, San Luis Obispo Defenders, Restorative Partners, People’s Justice Project, California Rural Legal Assistance, and San Luis Obispo College of Law will jointly host the event.

If you couldn’t make it to the clinic, residents can reach out to California Rural Legal Assistance at (805) 902-CRLA to see if their offenses are eligible for the expungement.