Long Beach Justice Fair Helps Reduce Felonies To Misdemeanors

Emily Thornton
Gazettes
May 27, 2016

People with criminal records could have a hard time applying for and landing jobs.

But next week, they have a chance to have their felonies reduced to misdemeanors and other help at the Long Beach Justice Resource Fair.

The free, all ages fair runs from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1, in the Long Beach Convention Center’s Seaside Ballroom. A New Way of Life Reentry Project and All of Us or None are organizing the event. Californians for Safety and Justice, Long Beach Community Action Partnership, Centro Cha Long Beach and others also are assisting.

Founder and director of A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Susan Burton, launched the project in 1998, after more than 20 years cycling in and out of the justice system, being jobless and unable to secure addiction recovery treatment.

Since then, the project’s rap sheet includes providing transitional housing and support for more than 900 women and helping more than 170 women reunite with their children. It’s also given household goods to more than 3,000 homeless people and established a re-entry legal clinic, which trained 350 community members and law students to be expungement experts, helped more than 2,000 people with expungements and reclassification of records and helped people get professional licenses, as well as challenging employment discrimination and background check errors. The project has accomplished other things as well.

Fair organizer Ingrid Archie received help from the project, she said. Last year, she said she was able to get out of jail early and now works as a Proposition 47 specialist for the project.

“Basically, it’s a fair to get their records cleared up,” Archie said.

At the fair, attorneys will be on hand to prepare petitions for felony reversal, as allowed by Proposition 47, passed by California voters in 2014. The proposition changed several previous felony offenses to misdemeanors and allows for those changes to be made retroactively. But the person must ask the court.

Limited amnesty and restoration of driving privileges for certain traffic offenses also will be available at the fair. The project worked with the state to secure these services. Attorneys will be available for preparing the paperwork necessary.

Live Scan services will be available at the fair to list peoples’ criminal records to determine which services they can use.

Social service agencies, public education programs and other services may be on hand during the fair to help with reentry. Additionally, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will help with immigration problems and judicial office candidates of the June election will have a judicial forum.

Additionally, people can access the project’s walk-in Wednesdays every week, Archie said. For that, people can bring in their criminal records to have lawyers assess what can be done, she said. The walk-ins are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Wednesday at 920 Atlantic Ave., Suite 101. For more information, call (323) 563-3575.