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San Jose Mercury News: SJSU Program Gives Reformed Criminals a Second Chance

Posted May 22, 2014 by the San Jose Mercury News.

By Mark Gomez

SAN JOSE — Armando Aguilar was tired of living in the shadow of his rap sheet.

Six years removed from his last conviction — for second-degree commercial burglary, under influence of meth and possession of a stolen check — and after he cleaned up his life, Aguilar graduated from San Jose City College in 2009 with a state certification to work as an alcohol and drug counselor. He soon found a job working with adults.

But when he applied for a job counseling youth, his criminal history killed his chances.

Soon after that, Aguilar heard about a free program at San Jose State that helps people who have turned their lives around remove certain misdemeanor and felony convictions from the public record. With the help of SJSU justice studies students, Aguilar’s criminal history was wiped clean by a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge.

“The fact I got everything expunged was a relief for me,” said Aguilar, 38, who was hired in October to work with at-risk youth in the East Bay and has informed his employer about his past. “I was able to close a chapter on that part of my life.”

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