For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Contact on behalf of Alliance for Safety and Justice: [email protected]
RECORD SEALING BILL PASSES ARIZONA LEGISLATURE WITH SUPPORT OF CRIME VICTIMS AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM ADVOCATES
Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Safety by Allowing Those with Records to Become Productive Members of Communities
PHOENIX – The Arizona Senate today passed Senate Bill 1294, a groundbreaking bill that establishes a record sealing process for those with old legal records, allowing people to become productive members of their communities and improving public safety throughout the state. The bill, which already passed the Arizona House in a bipartisan vote, would enhance the ability of thousands of Arizonians to attain employment, housing, and stability in their lives. Studies show that such policies are effective public safety measures that stop cycles of crime and make communities safer by creating economic stability. Alliance for Safety and Justice, alongside Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice – which has spearheaded the advocacy for this legislation over the past three years – released the following statements in response to the bill’s passage.
“Once someone has served their time and paid their debt to society, the ability to stabilize their lives is key to ending the cycle of crime. This legislation ensures that people with legal records can move forward with their lives and give back to their communities,” said John Bauters, Arizona State Director for the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “SB 1294 is a proven approach that will make Arizona safer for all, and help countless people re-enter the workforce. For the past four years, Rep. Toma has been a passionate and staunch supporter of building safer communities by allowing people a fresh start, and we thank Sen. Shope for joining the Representative in recognizing the importance of this bill to Arizona communities.”
“SB 1294 is more than a record sealing reform – it’s an opportunity to help those with records reconnect with their communities, attain stable jobs, and give back to society,” said Nathan Wade of Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice. “This bill is a product of years of listening to the concerns and feedback of crime survivors, the business and legal communities, and so many others who have advocated for alternative approaches to improving public safety. Representative Toma and Senator Shope made this passage possible, and we thank the legislature for supporting a proven approach that will lead to safer communities.”
“As a crime survivor, ending the cycle of crime in our communities is my top priority. We must adopt new approaches to public safety that tackle the root cause of crime. This bill does just that by opening up a door of opportunity for those who have served their time. SB 1294 will ensure communities are safer and have the tools they need to heal,” said Carol Gaxiola, Arizona member of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.
SB 1294 would establish a process for those with legal records to petition the court to seal their record of arrest, conviction, and sentence. This bill would allow a person – after a significant period of time since completing their sentence for an offense – to demonstrate the positive changes made in their life and move forward without the barriers created by a prior criminal record. The bill also requires victim notification and input in the judicial review of the request for record sealing relief.
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE FOR SAFETY AND JUSTICE
The Alliance for Safety and Justice is a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. It partners with leaders to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education, and advocacy. It also brings together diverse crime survivors to advance policies that help communities most harmed by crime and violence, as part of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice – its national network of over 46,000 crime survivors, with thousands of members in Arizona. For more information, visit https://allianceforsafetyandjustice.org.