Junior Castañeda spent most of the past decade addicted to methamphetamines and suffering through stints of homelessness. After racking up five misdemeanors, including three DUIs, he cleaned up a couple of years ago and entered community college with dreams of attaining an advanced degree in business.
To finance his education, Castañeda sought part-time employment this spring as a ticket-taker for the Oakland A's. He thought the job interview went well, but a few weeks later Castañeda received a rejection letter denying him employment based on his prior criminal convictions.
Adding to his frustration, Castañeda discovered his rap sheet prohibited him from speaking to incarcerated youth at Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall. As an act of personal redemption, the 27-year-old had hoped to share his life story with young prisoners.
Then, in March, Castañeda found out about a mobile app called Clear My Record. The platform helps people reduce or dismiss nonviolent convictions by submitting crime information to public defenders, streamlining a process that can take months and multiple visits to a county courthouse.
“All these companies have you run a background check," said Castañeda. "Well, I’ve changed. I’ve reformed from my old life and I can be a productive member of society. I can be an asset to any company.”