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October 2019

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Hacking for Second Chances

Students, data experts, lawyers, and reform advocates will convene at SCU Oct. 26 for a unique hackathon to give those with criminal records a "second chance" to reintegrate into society.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 16, 2019—On Saturday, Oct. 26, students, data experts, lawyers, and reform advocates will convene at Santa Clara University to find technology solutions to help people who are legally entitled to clear their criminal records finally fully re-integrate into society.  

Across the country, dozens of states have enacted “second chance” legislation, designed to help Americans with criminal records shorten or downgrade their past convictions, clear their records, and/or regain the right to vote. In theory, the second chance legislation removes barriers to full reintegration into society— unlocking opportunity for tens of millions of Americans. However, research by Santa Clara University Law Professor Colleen Chien shows that only a small fraction of those eligible for relief have received it.

This second annual 12-hour Second Chances and Empathy Hackathon— recognized by the National Law Journal and California Daily Journals with “Tech Trailblazer” awards—will teach participants things like how to develop algorithms to parse public records and find technologies to automate the clearance process. They will also write code and perform research projects to support re-entry and innocence projects by several nonprofit groups. Teams will consist of legal and tech hackers, advocates, public servants, students, and experts working on technology-driven strategies. 

Morning speakers will include Antonio Reza, a former felon now a first year law student at Santa Clara, and Jay Jordan, the head of Californians for Safety and Justice, which helped get California’s four second-chance laws passed. 

Media are invited to attend. Please RSVP to Deborah Lohse. 

More about the event can be found online and at the eventbrite registration.


  • WHAT: Second annual Second Chances and Empathy Hackathon, designed to solve the problem of getting “Second Chances” to individuals legally entitled to have criminal records cleared or reduced. After a day of hacking, there will be a screening of Life After Life at 7:00 pm.
  • WHERE: Santa Clara University campus, Charney Hall , 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053
  • WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 26, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
  • WHO: More than 90 registered participants including advocates, public servants, students, and experts in tech and law. 
  • SPONSORS: High Tech Law Institute, Leavey School of Business, Black Law Student Association, Criminal Law Society at Santa Clara University, La Raza, Internet Law Society, Northern California Innocence Project, and others
  • RSVP: Media are requested to RSVP to Deborah Lohse of SCU Media Communications, or 408-554-5121. 



October 26, 2019 at SCU's Charney Hall

8 a.m. Breakfast, Check-in, Project Signup

9 a.m. Opening Speakers: Judge Vanessa Zecher, Jay Jordan, Antonio Reza, and SCU finance professor Sanjiv Das

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Hacking 

6 to 7 p.m. Judging and dinner

7 to 9 p.m. Movie Screening and Speaker: Noel Valdivia Sr. 



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