The Path Out of ‘Post-Conviction Poverty’

Ingrid Archie is the Organizing Director for TimeDone speaks on the importance of expungement

from The Appeal

More than 70 million people in the United States have criminal convictions on their records, which can impede their ability to obtain an education, parent their children, find housing, or secure employment.

Ingrid Archie is the Organizing Director for TimeDone, an organization dedicated to removing barriers for formerly incarcerated people. Like many other formerly incarcerated women, she is a mother and domestic violence survivor who experienced years of trauma before she was locked up.

“I was removed from my mom at the age of 7. I was adopted out into my dad’s side of the family and ran away eventually,” Archie told The Appeal. “When I would not go to school or something like that, no one asked why I wasn’t going to school … I was never asked, ‘How can I help?’”

Below is The Appeal’s interview with Archie, which has been edited for clarity.

The Appeal: Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Ingrid Archie: I was born and raised in LA. I grew up in the 80s during what we call the War on Drugs. I was exposed to a lot of different elements during that time—being cycled in and out of foster care led to me being cycled in and out of prisons and jails. 

Then, I went into a reentry home in Watts, California, founded by a woman named Susan Burton. She taught me a lot about why it’s important to understand the outside forces that contribute to women going to jail and to understand a lot of unaddressed trauma that I dealt with. She connected me to therapists and inspired me to know that I could help change these laws so that people coming behind me—people coming from where I come from—don’t have to face some of the challenges that I did. 

TA: Why is it important to expunge people’s records?

IA: There are over 70 million people who have an arrest record or an old conviction. 

We live in post-conviction poverty. Those barriers create red tape that is very hard to jump over. It’s very hard to get ahead when you’re stuck there. It’s important to educate people and to change these laws to address that.

TA: For our readers who might not know how to do this, how can they expunge their records? 

IA: They can join TimeDone to learn more about what’s applicable in their specific state.

For people in California, SB731 addresses certain felonies that can be expunged. They can get connected to service providers to get that expungement.

TA: What was the process like to get that bill through?

IA: The biggest thing that helped us land the bill was the issue of safety. When people have records, it’s important that they have the opportunity to get gainful housing and gainful employment—that gives them the opportunity to create safer housing and safer communities. Removing these barriers promotes safer communities. 

TA: Is there anything else you want to share that I didn’t ask about? 

IA: Any woman, wherever they are, if you have an arrest record, or you have a conviction on your record, join TimeDone. We are a network of people living with old records with no judgment whatsoever. 

We want to continue to fight to make sure that women impacted by [domestic violence], trauma, who are being separated from their kids, have a place to go and know they have a voice and have people supporting them. We want to help stabilize you in your journey to reintegrate into society and provide something better for your family and yourself.