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    Salvation Army Partners with Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Association to Expunge Ex-offenders’ Criminal Records

    CAPTION: Expungement sessions with the Salvation Army and the Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Assn. are available both in English and Español.


    “People who have completed court requirements and parole or probation, can submit documents to begin the expungement process,” says the Salvation Army’s Naomi Goforth, “and if accepted by the court, many times things on their criminal record can be expunged so they won’t stand in the way of their ability to have a better life.”

    REDLANDS, CA. — For individuals who have turned their lives around and are eager to get and hold a responsible job, find stable housing, or pursue educational opportunities, the fact that they have an accessible criminal record too often results in them being turned away.

    “Expungement” (also known as “expunction”) is the legal term for “a court-ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is erased from your public criminal record.” Once an expungement is granted, one is no longer legally required to disclose one’s criminal record. This applies to employment, housing, and educational institution applications.

    For many years, Expungement was available only for those who committed misdemeanors or lower-level felonies. Since 2023, with the passage of SB 731, Californians with most kinds of felony convictions, even violent crimes, can apply. There are two exceptions to the rule: sex offenses for California residents and anyone applying for federal employment or licensure.

    Because one needs to file a legal action and have one’s case adjudicated in superior court, a petitioner needs a lawyer. The Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps has recently partnered with the Inland Empire Latino Lawyers Association (IELLA) so that participants and alumni of Street Outreach, Shelter, and Transitional Living programs can take advantage of this service.

    As an additional step to include community members who may benefit, anyone eligible for Expungement can participate in the upcoming Legal Clinics.

    To get started, people seeking expungement need to call 951-369-3009 to confirm their attendance and eligibility for free legal help and the Livescan service.

    IELLA provides free help to qualified ex-offenders. Gabriela Peréz, IELLA’s Executive Director, says, “With new leadership and additional funding, IELLA has prioritized and begun to specialize in expungements because we see its immediate impact on clients’ quality of life. Once clients submit their court documents to start their expungement process, they feel empowered and hopeful.

    “After their case is expunged, they have new opportunities to seek a well-paying job, better housing, and pursue higher education. It all adds up to a better sense of self. As Executive Director, it’s my vision to close the justice gap and ensure that low-income people throughout the Inland Counties have an improved quality of life through access to the courts.”

    Getting qualified starts with a Live Scan, which uses the participants’ fingerprints to access their criminal records. Alternatively, if Live Scan is inaccessible, individuals seeking IELLA’s legal assistance in Expungement may pull their own RAP sheet or Criminal Record History and bring it to the Community Event. Screening includes ensuring that an applicant has completed any court-ordered parole or probation requirements, is not the subject of a restraining order against them, has no pending or open cases, and has fulfilled any court-ordered victim restitution.

    Participants in this process must also demonstrate that their annual income is below 200% of the federal poverty level. For the 48 contiguous United States, that’s $30,120 for a single person. Because all qualified participants are low-income, this sometimes means that they might not be financially able to complete restitution. In that case, IELLA helps petition the court for permission to proceed.

    “There is no guarantee that the court will approve an exemption to the restitution rule,” says Peréz, “but we do our best to make a good case on their behalf. These people are turning their lives around and deserve an opportunity to pursue a better quality of life.”

    Salvation Army Director of Programs Naomi Goforth notes that Live Scans are provided at no charge, and assistance is provided to obtain Criminal Record History through alternative means if needed. The process includes one-on-one interviews and reviews to ensure that applicants have all the necessary documents.

    Two dates have been set for those who wish to apply for Expungement: Thursday, June 27th, at The Salvation Army Hospitality House, 925 W. 10th Street in San Bernardino, and Saturday the 29th, at The Salvation Army Corps and Community Center, 838 Alta Street in Redlands. Sessions start promptly at 9:00 a.m. and run until 1:00 p.m.

    “When people have served their time, completed what the court has required, done their due diligence to address things which may have contributed to their criminal history, and they’ve done the work to turn their lives around,” Goforth said of her clients, “they deserve the chance to have a good life, get a good a job, secure stable housing and be able to pursue their education or a vocation if they desire. ”

    For more information, call (909) 792-6868.

    About the Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps

    The Salvation Army may provide emergency services, including food, lodging for homeless or displaced families, clothing and furniture, assistance with rent or mortgage, and transportation when funds are available.

    The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church that offers evangelical programs for boys, girls, and adults. One of the world’s largest charitable and international service organizations, the Salvation Army has existed since 1865 and in San Bernardino since 1885, supporting those in need without discrimination. Donations may always be made online at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling 1 (800) SAL-ARMY. Our local number is (909) 792-6868.