SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.—Today the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors commended the San Jose State University Record Clearance Project, which provides support to the Probation Adult Services Division, the Public Defender Office, and the Office of the District Attorney, by assisting community members to clear eligible criminal convictions from their records.
Last month, the Project received the Dean's Award from the University’s Dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, in recognition of its significant accomplishments in community service and education.
“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this vital partnership,” said Supervisor George Shirakawa, President County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “Because of your service to the community, ex-offenders have a chance at employment again, so they provide for their families and be productive. We appreciate your dedication and hard work.”
The Record Clearance Project developed by San Jose State University professor Peggy Stevenson has forged a collaboration with the County since 2008, in which San Jose State University undergraduates in Criminal Justice studies and taking her Court and Society class assist individuals seeking expungement of their criminal records. Students help prepare petitions processed through the Probation Department to ensure applicants meet the legal requirements for clearance.
“This Project is highly successful and mutually beneficial for both the students and the County,” said Probation Deputy Chief Karen Fletcher. “Students learn a great deal about the process required for a record expungement, while they offer valuable legal assistance to County agencies.”
The Public Defender Office has contracted for many years with the Social Services Agency to provide record clearance services for CalWORKs participants and General Assistance recipients. With guidance from Professor Stevenson and Public Defender Office attorneys, San Jose State University Record Clearance Project students work with individual candidates to compile important biographical information, prepare the petitions, and follow the process through the final court hearing where a Public Defender attorney advocates for the client.
“Giving students hands on experience in jobs performed by paralegals with attorney supervision makes this partnership a remarkable investment,” said J.J. Kapp, Felony Team Supervisor at the Public Defender Office. “The program enables our office to concentrate on mandated services, while at the same time providing essential tools to help achieve favorable results for those that have turned their lives around.”
Since 2008 over 300 SJSU students have participated in the program and over 100 indigent members of the community have been served. At this time 50 to 60 students and volunteers represent the average number involved per year. The academic portion of the collaboration has evolved into a two class project with a community outreach component.
About the Record clearance process
Requests for Record Clearances are processed through the Santa Clara County Probation Department. Probation staff researches petitions, including the petitioner’s criminal record, performance on probation if applicable, and payment of all Court imposed fines and fees. Once processed, these Record Clearance applications are forwarded to the Court. Cases are reviewed by a Judge who determines whether or not the Record Clearance will be granted or denied. Judges often rely on the recommendation received from Probation.
Many of the individuals seeking assistance through this project are represented by the Public Defenders Office, while others represent themselves and are assisted by San Jose State students.
The fee for a Record Clearance ($150) is waived if an individual seeking assistance through the Project is represented by the Public Defender's Office.