Ten years ago, early one Saturday morning in April, East Bay residents—mostly African American men—showed up for Alameda County’s first Clean Slate Summit at Laney College, sponsored by then-Congresswoman Barbara Lee and EBCLC. EBCLC and Congresswoman Lee’s office had expected roughly 500 people to attend; more than 900 showed up. The line of people wound around Laney’s campus. The attendees at the summit came because they wanted to work but faced substantial barriers to employment because of their criminal records.
EBCLC responded to that overwhelming client need with a new and innovative practice. A decade ago, there was not yet widespread recognition that the War on Drugs was, in fact, a war on people of color and the poor. With its Clean Slate Practice, EBCLC was at the cutting edge of helping undo the disastrous consequences of the over-criminalization and over-incarceration of people in our communities, particularly people of color.
A decade later, the Clean Slate Practice has served nearly 10,000 low-income people in the East Bay, trained more than 150 law students in providing reentry legal services, and helped to create a powerful network of reentry partners around the state and country. Over the years, the practice has grown and evolved in many ways:
- Clean Slate formed a groundbreaking one-stop reentry clinic in collaboration with the Alameda County Public Defender. This clinic is the first of its kind in the country.
- Clean Slate’s robust litigation practice involves highly innovative impact litigation around criminal record reporting, race discrimination, and consumer protection for people with criminal records.
- Recognizing the overwhelming need for representation of people denied professional licenses based on their criminal record, Clean Slate’s licensing advocacy work provides representation to clients in their appeals.
- Clean Slate engages in policy advocacy to expand the rights and protections for people with criminal records.
- Clean Slate has engaged in several campaigns, including a civic engagement reentry voters and jurors, and Starting Over Strong, a juvenile reentry campaign.
- Joining forces with two other EBCLC practice areas — GC3 (a community economic development practice) and the Consumer Justice Practice that support economic resiliency to form EBCLC’s Economic Security and Opportunity Program to provide more extensive services for our clients
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