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Recent studies indicate that 92% of employers conduct background checks on potential employees. Having a criminal record is often a major obstacle to employment for low-income residents in San Jose and this challenge is amplified for people of color. Legal representation is cost prohibitive with lawyers charging between $150 and $700 per hour and legal fees for handing a simple misdemeanors commonly costing between $2,000 to $3,000. SJSU’s Record Clearance Project, founded and run by Justice Studies faculty member and lawyer Peggy Stevenson works to provide free legal services to low-income residents and the incarcerated. RCP assists thousands of people each year with criminal convictions who cannot afford an attorney, enabling them to pursue their legal rights to a full, productive future.

By the Numbers | 2019-20

58 SJSU students engaged

704 residents engaged

7,147 hours of student service

 $176,459 value

Project Impacts

  • 88% of the respondents learned about the necessity of dismissing jail convictions
  • This Spring, the court forgave over $14,800 in fees and fines
  • Provided 16 LiveScan events where 136 community members, 103 (76%) of whom were indigent, received their criminal history reports, saving residents $5,295

Community Voices

“Knowing this information made doors open that would better my life and my son’s. I will for sure go get help with you guys upon my release.”
– Elmwood Jail presentation respondent

“I am not able to express the gratitude I feel! The students were such a blessing! The wisdom and compassion they showed me are “no words” priceless! I never thought it would be possible, but now I believe anything is possible!”
–RCP Speed Screening client

“Thanks for giving me info to better my future for myself and my family. More places should do good work like this. It does make a difference.”
–Salvation Army presentation respondent