Movement to Seal Old Records for Millions of Americans Reaches Pivotal Moment in California

Group of seven Californians first to have their record expungement petitions approved during landmark court hearing  

California’s new law – Senate Bill 731 – considered the most sweeping expungement and record sealing policy in the nation

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A landmark hearing took place today that will set the precedent for improving the lives of millions of Americans with old records, our nation’s economy and public safety. A judge approved the record sealing petitions of seven Californians, making them the first in California history to have their criminal records sealed under the state’s groundbreaking new law, Senate Bill 731 (SB 731).

SB 731, which went into effect on January 1, is broadly considered the most sweeping expungement and record sealing policy in the nation. It electronically seals records for people who have been arrested, but not convicted of a crime. It also allows for most people who went to prison to petition a court to have their records electronically sealed after completing parole and being crime-free for four years, with the exception of records relating to registerable sex offenses. 

The historic shift in the state’s expungement process grants well over a million Californians the opportunity to be unburdened, in many cases for the first time in decades, from 5,000 legal restrictions in the state that limit the pursuit of gainful employment, stable housing, educational opportunities, and other keys to public safety, family stability, and economic security. 

“Thanks to SB 731, I am finally free!” says Jay Jordan, CEO of Alliance for Safety and Justice and National Director of TimeDone. “As a nation of second chances, it’s important that state lawmakers and regulators prioritize record sealing automation and expungement policy to free people who’ve served time and are rehabilitated from thousands of laws and restrictions that block them from economic stability. It not only improves the lives of people who’ve been incarcerated but improves outcomes for communities plagued by violence and instability.” 

Jay Jordan, who pioneered the new electronic record sealing and expungement framework in California, was among the petitioners whose freedoms were granted at today’s historic hearing.

Jordan and members of TimeDone, a flagship program of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, nationwide network of 172,000  people with old records, and one of the key bill sponsors of SB 731, are now calling on state lawmakers and regulators to use SB 731 as a model to improve the economy and public safety throughout the country. 

Nationally, 78 million Americans – 1 in 3 adults – live with an old criminal conviction or record that can permanently block them from getting jobs, housing, educational opportunities and other keys to attaining economic security and family stability. This is true despite the fact that many people with convictions were never incarcerated and have been crime free for years or even decades. Yet, they still face 40,000 different laws and restrictions that restrict economic mobility and push people into post-conviction poverty.

Studies have found that 9 out of 10 employers and 4 in 5 landlords rely on record searches to make decisions on whether to hire or rent to individuals. Electronic record sealing removes old records from databases that are used to inform background checks nationwide. 


Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a national advocacy organization that aims to replace ineffective criminal justice system policies with what works to keep people safe. We represent diverse crime survivors as well as people living with old records as key public safety stakeholders. ASJ brings our members together with state leaders and coalition partners to win reforms that stop cycles of crime, reduce costly incarceration, and make communities safer. We support a range of “shared safety” reforms, including crime prevention, community health, rehabilitation, economic mobility, and trauma recovery. For more information, visit