SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Destiny Garcia was homeless and battling addiction when she was arrested in 2017.
“I’m a woman in long-term recovery from heroin and meth use,” says Garcia, “I was thrown in jail with 13 warrants and went through treatment. After that, I finished my treatment, graduated from drug court, transitioned into sobriety, and that’s when I started looking for a job.
Garcia soon realized, despite his sobriety, that his criminal record was preventing him from finding a job. “I was looking for jobs everywhere I couldn’t find work, when I got a job and they hired me, as soon as they looked at my background, they let me go,” says Garcia.
At first, she got a job at Build-A-Bear, a second-chance company. She was only paid a little over eight dollars an hour, for about ten hours a week. This barely covered his bus fare to work. Eventually, Garcia landed a job in the Salt Lake County mayor’s office, earning double the salary of most people in recovery. She was still unable to afford the cost of having her criminal record expunged and was only able to do so with the help of friends and colleagues. “I was able to erase 13 things from my file. The final cost was $3,000,” says Garcia.
More than 800,000 people in the state of Utah have criminal records, according to Clean Slate Utah, a nonprofit whose goal is to educate Utahns about the clean slate law. Many of these individuals may qualify for deletion of their records, but do not have the financial means to do so. Utah’s clean slate law will automatically erase eligible records without having to go through an expensive and complicated erasure process. Eligible cases only include certain crimes. Class C misdemeanors would be expunged after five years from the date of judgment, six years after qualifying Class B misdemeanors and seven years for qualifying Class A misdemeanors. Currently, more than 200,000 people in Utah will benefit from the implementation of this law.
Noella Sudbury, executive director of Clean Slate Utah, said the bill has bipartisan support because of the positive impact it could have on society.
“It strengthens our economy, it improves our tax base, it makes our community safer, and in a tight job market people need workers, and this law will help a lot of people get back into the job market,” he said. said Sudbury.
Most importantly, Sudbury says people, like Garcia, will get a second chance.
“Before my records were erased, I couldn’t even enter an apartment. My son had to help me find an apartment. I am closing my first house on March 1,” says Garcia.