Alameda County races the clock to help ex-cons benefit from Prop. 47

Sara Hossaini
May 27, 2015


Advocates in Alameda County are struggling to reach the 5,000 Prop 47-eligible probationers, many of whom have unstable housing and work.

East Bay Community Law Center Executive Director Tirien Steinbach says Prop 47 aligns society’s values with modern realities.

“Laws have actually been on the books to help people move on with their lives and re-enter the community since the ’30s,” says Steinbach. “The idea is people got in trouble with the law and they did their time, we forgave them. That’s our culture.”

New technology, in the form of background checks, eroded the possibility of a smooth reentry.

“So the law said, ‘We will forgive you for what you’ve done.’ The new reality was that we will do commercial background checks, the government will do background checks, once a con always a con, and that’s it,” Steinbach says.

She says Prop 47 is a big deal because because it lowers the time of sentences on minor crimes and opens to the door to other barriers, such as bans on certain professional licenses.

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Organizations mentioned/involved: East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC)