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Approximately two million Californians are eligible to have old arrests and certain crimes cleared from their records under state law, according to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

Yet, most never successfully clear their records—because of the complicated petition process and associated fees, and because many are unaware that they are eligible for such relief. Fewer than one-out-of-five people successfully complete the process.

“Millions of Californians are living in a paper prison,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “A huge number of people are entitled to relief that they’ll never realize because they have to jump through hoops to get it.”

These lingering marks on criminal records can keep people from being able to access housing, employment, and education. People with criminal convictions must contend with thousands of legal restrictions that often make successful reentry far more challenging. Even old arrests that did not result in criminal convictions can block the path to employment.