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Alameda County Cleans Up the Rap Sheet

An innovative partnership to get felons back on their feet. 


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All too often, “felon” is a permanent label that constricts people’s lives long after they’ve left the justice system. To change that, the East Bay Community Law Center, which partners with Alameda Country Public Defender’s Office and is supported by various nonprofits, started the Alameda County Clean Slate Clinic to help offenders mitigate their criminal record. Clean Slate Clinic staffers hold two clinics a week in Oakland and Hayward, helping about 1,000 people a year.

The aim is to reintegrate clients into society, in large part by removing hurdles to landing a job: Many employers won’t consider people with a record. The clinic is expecting a big influx of new clients: those who were sentenced, many for drug-related crimes, under laws that became obsolete when California passed Proposition 47 in 2014. The law made around 10,000 incarcerated or paroled inmates eligible for resentencing. The clinic is helping them get a head start on a better life. 


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