As we advocate for solutions that shift resources away from over-policing and mass incarceration, we must also repair past harms as a way to build a better future together.
Pennsylvania's Clean Slate Act has now become a kind of national model as more than half a dozen states including Utah, North Carolina and Louisiana have started moving toward automated expungement of criminal records.
The Clean Slate Initiative (CSI), a bipartisan national movement to automate the clearing of criminal records that block second chances for tens of millions of Americans, today announced the hire of Sheena Meade as Managing Director.
The Clean Slate Initiative’s vision is a country where opportunity is available to all people irrespective of a criminal record—a vision that is even more important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where people with records are already at a bigger disadvantage. Acting in accordance with the Clean Slate Initiative’s values, we are responding to the crisis by subsequently adapting our work to our nation’s changed landscape.
Immediately, we are working with our partner organizations to offer resources, flexibility, and infrastructure to the criminal justice reform work that continues to go on amidst the chaos. We have evaluated our operating budget and committed to redirect a portion of funding toward immediate rapid response needs for partner organizations.
And now more than ever, we need to support the community-based organizations protecting and advocating for justice-involved individuals and families. Many of these state organizations have precarious finances. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing anxiety, instability, and forcing unimaginable decisions. In order to support our community through this challenging time, we have offered a number of rapid response grants to our local partners.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make operational updates as needed to ensure we are doing everything we can for our partners, our communities, and those most impacted.
Lawmakers in Congress are soon set to hear a bipartisan proposal that has the potential to help tens of thousands of Americans get a second chance by creating the first ever federal process for sealing criminal records.
The Stranger: To the State Legislature: Fulfill the Promise You Made, Pass the Clean Slate Act Today
Tarra Simmons is a lawyer, Director of Civil Survival, and a candidate for Washington State House of Representatives in the 23rd Legislative District. She argues in this op-ed that the Clean Slate Act is a necessary remedy to our justice system, which all too often punishes too many vulnerable people for life.