Bexar County Taps Local Tech To Help Clear Records
Bexar County is turning to a local tech company to help people released from prison secure jobs.
One hundred thousand people are on parole in Texas, and they must have a job, but when the application asks, “Have you ever been arrested?” studies have shown a ‘yes’ answer often leads to a response of ‘no thanks.’
“They are afraid,” said Norma Laborde, deputy director for Bexar County’s office of criminal justice. “They often ask themselves, ‘Do I put this on? Do I not? Is it going to keep me from finding a job?' ”
Bexar County commissioners approved $3,700 in funding for a pilot program Tuesday helping people expunge their arrest record. County programs assisted 15,000 people reenter society last year. This new tool provided by local tech company Easy Expunctions will help 2,500 people evaluate their background checks, and 10 will be selected to participate.
“If we can truly get these 10 individuals into a better career ladder then, to me that’s success,” she said.
Goodwill Industries of San Antonio — which also has staff at Bexar County Reentry Services Center — is partnering on the deal with personnel and funding.
“We’re going to see if this really helps,” said Steve Hussain, chief mission services officer with Goodwill San Antonio.
Goodwill and the county will evaluate the program when it has finished with the hope of increasing the number of people they can help. Goodwill Industries of Austin and Houston use Easy Expunctions for their clients already, according to Hussain.
Only non-convictions can be expunged, times when someone was arrested but was found not guilty or the judgment was deferred. Someone leaving prison won’t be able to remove documentation of the crime that led them there.
“It’s very common that they will have multiple offenses, and it can appear much worse than it actually is,” he said.
The process of removing things from someone’s record can be difficult and labor intensive and varies across states, which is why Easy Expunctions was approached for the project.
“It’s kind of crazy how complicated it is,” Hussain said.
Easy Expunctions has an existing relationship with Bexar County. It received funding to move to San Antonio through a county innovation grant. Since then, the company has expanded its staff to 30 and offers services in seven states.
“That’s really what it means for us is being able to prove that this is something that’s helpful,” said Yousef Kassim, chief executive officer for Easy Expunctions.