According to a complaint filed with the Riverside Superior Court (All of Us or None-Riverside Chapter et al. v. W. Samuel Hamrick, Jr. et al. Case No. RIC1613524) All of Us or None-Riverside is seeking to compel the Court to protect the privacy interests of people with criminal records and stop profiteering from selling information about their records.
Not all criminal court records in California are available to the public. Minor marijuana records are destroyed after two years. (Health & Safety Code §11361.5) Sensitive personal information (such as social security and driver’s license number) cannot be disclosed over the Internet. (Rules of Court 2.507) A summary of an individual’s criminal history is off limits to all but a few authorized agencies like the law enforcement. (Penal Code §13300) A criminal history summary cannot disclose dismissed or expunged records. (Labor Code §432.7) The Riverside Superior Court is in violation of each of these laws and regulations.
Collectively, these laws protect what the courts call “practical obscurity” of criminal record information. Similar to the “right to be forgotten” recently gaining in popularity in Europe, “practical obscurity” is supposed to allow individuals to escape the scarlet letter of their past records and live a productive life as full citizens. Without it, one’s past encounter with the criminal justice system forever marks him as a “criminal,” and no passage of time or amount of effort can restore his full citizenship.
In the world of mass incarceration, “practical obscurity” is more relevant than ever. As made clear by the Black Lives Matter in recent years, the American criminal justice system disproportionately targets communities of color. People of color die disproportionately at the hands of the law enforcement. When they survive, they are left with the permanent mark of a criminal record, endangering their job, housing, and even custody of their children. Without “practical obscurity,” the injustice of our criminal justice system spills over to our everyday life.
The lawsuit filed by All of Us or None-Riverside is unique. It seeks no money from the Court, only injunctive and declaratory relief. “Win or lose, we want the Court to examine the role it plays in making us permanent second class citizens,” says Vonya Quarles, an attorney and community organizer for All of Us or None-Riverside. “We have no illusions that this will be easy, but we are determined to fight this all the way. For the Court, this is about budget. For us, it is about our survival.”
About All of Us or None:
In collaboration with other formerly incarcerated & convicted individuals, All of Us or None (AOUON) was co-founded in 2003 by CNN Hero, Susan Burton. AOUON was created because the people most directly impacted by the criminal justice system had no organized or collective voice in the policies that affect them. AOUON’S primary goal is to build a movement led by formerly incarcerated/convicted individuals to win full restoration of the human and civil rights of justice-involved individuals.
AOUON’s values are grounded in its “Self-Determination Pledge”:
- a) We demand the right to speak in our own voices;
b) We treat each other with respect and will not allow differences to divide us;
c) We accept responsibility for any acts that may have caused harm to our
families, our communities or ourselves;
d) We fight all forms of discrimination;
e) We help build the economic stability of formerly-incarcerated people;
f) We claim and take care of our own children and our families;
g) We support community struggles to stop using prisons as the answer to
social problems; and
h) We play an active role in making our communities safe for everyone.
All of US or NONE