By Suzanne Potter
Nevada is the kind of place where a lot of people end up needing a second chance.
It’s a state where the booms and busts of the gaming industry have led many into poverty, drug abuse, even jail time. So, as it slowly recovers from the 2008 recession, legislators have come together to transform Nevada into a place where people can leave past indiscretions behind and reclaim their lives.
An important move in that direction will happen October 1, when a new state law called AB 327 goes into effect.
The law, which allows people to get their criminal records sealed much more quickly than they ever could before, is called by some justice advocates one of the most sweeping state efforts to seal records of the criminally convicted, and ease their re-entry to post-prison life.
It’s life-changing news for 33-year-old Tara Trificana from Reno, who made some big mistakes in her early 20s.
That’s when, addicted to crystal meth, she stole a blank check from her mom, wrote it out for $400, and cashed it. The prosecutor charged her with felony theft and conspiracy to commit grand larceny, which is a gross misdemeanor.
Trificana served three years behind bars. She got out and got clean in 2009. But since then, she says, it’s been all but impossible to get back on her feet.
“Living with a felony and a gross misdemeanor is hellacious,” she says, “Employers look at you a different way. In 2015, I got hired and fired from 14 different jobs.”
Under the old law, she would have had to wait 15 years to get her felony record sealed. Under AB 327, however, people who’ve stayed on the straight and narrow for five years after prison and probation can apply for sealing. The law also cuts the length of good-behavior time required to seal misdemeanor criminal records from two years to one.