RISE Program to Assist Residents with Post-Conviction Relief
Mayor Robert Garcia and City Prosecutor Doug Haubert announced a first-of-its-kind program in Long Beach, Restoration Initiative for Safety and Employment (RISE), which will provide free assistance to those who are eligible to seal their low-level misdemeanor or felony records, clear a minor warrant, enroll in court diversion programs, and convert court fines to community service. RISE will also include marijuana expungements, and assist with finding employment, educational opportunities, and providing other benefits.
“The consequences of a criminal conviction can extend long after a person has completed his or her sentence, and can affect a person’s employment, access to government benefits, and other forms of participation in civic life,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “This innovative program will provide an avenue for justice-involved individuals to get their lives back on track.”
“Our Office looks forward to partnering with local public and private organizations, such as the Long Beach Bar Association, the Long Beach Ministers Alliance, and the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office to provide assistance to eligible participants of the RISE program,” said City Prosecutor Doug Haubert. “Helping Long Beach residents looking to improve themselves and gain employment can only make our neighborhoods safer.”
“This program provides an excellent opportunity for prosecutors, police and others involved in the criminal justice system to assist people in clearing low-level criminal matters from their records, so they may change their lives through employment and education,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who leads the largest prosecuting agency in the country and has advocated for criminal justice reforms.
In September the City Council authorized $200K to assist with misdemeanor expungements to help people reenter the workforce. Clearing of criminal records is a key part of improving employment outcomes for persons with prior convictions.
A cornerstone of RISE will be four workshops held in Long Beach starting in January 2019 where individuals can receive in-person assistance from attorneys. Year-round assistance will also be available for those with cases handled by the City Prosecutor’s Office, which has jurisdiction over all adult misdemeanor cases arising in the city, including theft, vandalism, drug possession, public intoxication, driving on a suspended license, and violation of city codes.
All assistance will be provided free of charge for qualified participants. In some cases, assistance will be limited to those with cases in Los Angeles County or within the jurisdiction of the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office, which handles adult misdemeanors. Persons with specific questions about their cases may still need to consult their own attorneys.
For many years, California law has permitted the expungement (sealing) of certain felony and misdemeanor level criminal convictions. The recent passage of Proposition 64 (the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act) made many prior convictions for marijuana-related crimes eligible for dismissal or charge reduction.
Many people, however, are not aware of the laws allowing them to clear their criminal convictions. Since specific documents must be filed in court, some people without access to legal assistance have had difficulty filing the necessary paperwork to expungement their criminal convictions or completing the legal process. Those interested in learning more about the program can email RISE@longbeach.gov, or visit http://cityprosecutordoughaubert.com/community-programs/.