SAN FRANCISCO — A Northern California law­maker and district at­tor­ney announced Thurs­day a proposed law that would automatically clear some 8 million crim­inal convictions el­ig­ib­le for sealing but that remain public records.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and state Democratic As­sem­blyman Phil Ting of San Francisco said the bill if passed would help mil­lions of offenders take ad­vantage of an often over­looked law allowing convicted drunken dri­vers, burglars and other low-level offenders to seal their records.

Gascon at a press con­ference in San Francisco with Ting said fewer than 20% of eligible cases are cleared and that most eligible offenders are unaware they can seal their criminal records and are “living in a paper prison.”

Sex offenders and any offender who served time in prison are ineligible.

The bill introduced in the Assembly by Ting would require the state to automatically clear el­ig­ible convictions of of­fend­ers who served their sen­tences, including pro­ba­tion, and who oth­er­wise stayed out troub­le. The bill would also wipe away many re­cords of arrests that ended with­out criminal con­victions.

Gascon said sealing eligible criminal records will help one-time, low-level offenders find jobs, housing and education that may be blocked by their convictions. Gascon says the proposed law would remain in law en­force­ment data bases, but would bar access to background check agen­cies and the public in general.

“It really impacts the ability for the general pub­lic to get this in­for­ma­tion … landlords, em­ploy­ers, schools,” Gascon said. “It still allows law en­forcement to have this information in case they re-offend.”

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