In hopes of learning the process so she can help other people with criminal records transition back into society, and help address some of the causes that lead people back to crime, Tarra Simmons received her certificate of restoration of opportunities on Friday.
In April we wrote about Tarra, a second-year student at the Seattle University School of Law, and her work to help people transitioning out of prison and jail. It’s personal for her, as she spent nearly two years in prison following a descent into meth and crime. Now she plans to become a lawyer and help Kitsap residents get back on their feet after being imprisoned.
The law allows people who have been convicted of certain crimes to petition a judge for a certificate that shows they have completed their sentence and have been law abiding citizens.
King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg described the certificate as “a receipt that says the person has paid their debt to society and can move forward.”
It’s especially important, advocates say, for those whose job requires on an occupational license from the state and can also help when finding an apartment. It does this partly because it updates a person’s records so when an employer or landlord conducts a Washington State Patrol background check, there will be a note that says the person received the certificate.
Simmons had prepared a statement to explain the new law – it took effect earlier this month.
“I just wanted to at least give oral argument, explain what it was, why I’m eligible,” Tarra said, adding that she had prepared a statement. “And then the prosecutor agreed and said I was eligible, so I didn’t get to say anything.”
Tarra said she heard that nobody in King County has yet received the certificate, and she believes she is the first in Kitsap.
For more information on the certificates, and information on how to get one, go to this Columbia Legal Services page.