Media, News 2.16.21

National Momentum Grows as Four States Launch Clean Slate Campaigns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 16, 2021

CONTACT: CleanSlate@SpitfireStrategies.com

 

Four States Launch Clean Slate Campaigns, Building the National Movement for Automatic Record Clearance

New York, Texas, Oregon, Delaware Join Clean Slate Initiative to Push for Real Second Chances for Millions of Americans

 

The Clean Slate Initiative, joined by partners across the political spectrum and from around the nation, today announced the launch of four new state campaigns in Texas, New York, Oregon and Delaware to pass legislation that will automatically clear criminal records for millions of people. There are now seven states leading Clean Slate efforts across the country, including Louisiana, Connecticut and North Carolina, and policies are already on the books in Michigan, Utah and Pennsylvania.

“Everyone in America should have a fair opportunity to make a living, take care of their families and participate in their communities. Even when people make mistakes, they should have a second chance to care for their families and access opportunity,” said Sheena Meade, managing director of the Clean Slate Initiative and a lifelong advocate and organizer directly impacted by the system who most recently helped restore voting rights to 1.4 million Floridians.

With Clean Slate laws on the books in Michigan, Utah and Pennsylvania, and campaigns moving in seven more states, the movement for second chances is growing. When one in three Americans has some kind of criminal history, Clean Slate policies can make second chances a reality for millions of Americans saddled with arrest or conviction records that block their access to the basics of life —  jobs, housing, education, starting a business or just participating fully in community life, injustices that are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Clean Slate policies can’t undo America’s history of mass incarceration, but it can change the future in a big way,” said Sharon Dietrich, litigation director of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. “The economic recession is going to require many Americans to come back to work. For people with records, the background check is often the most daunting part of the hiring process. Successfully navigating that process will help them move on – and help get our economy back on track.”

At a panel discussion launching the new campaigns, speakers including Meade and Dietrich represented the broad array of support for Clean Slate legislation across the political spectrum and across diverse constituencies, including directly impacted communities, business leaders and advocates for criminal legal reform. Panelists included:

  • Sharon Dietrich, Litigation Director of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
  • Marc Levin, Chief Policy Counsel at Council on Criminal Justice and Senior Advisor to Right on Crime
  • Celia Ouellette, CEO of Responsible Business Initiative for Justice
  • Laura Johnson, Director of Program Development, Sponsors Inc., Clean Slate Oregon.
  • Victor Dempsey, Community Organizer, Legal Aid Society,  Clean Slate New York
  • Maggie Luna, Peer Policy Fellow, Statewide Leaders Council & Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Clean Slate Texas
  • Dubard McGriff, President and Founder, Game Changers, Clean Slate Delaware

Pennsylvania, the first state to pass a Clean Slate, has already cleared more than 36,000,000 criminal records of impacted individuals, creating a pathway for people to rebuild their lives and improve their economic prospects. Utah and Michigan passed similar measures last year that will be implemented in 2021, adding to the number of cleared records nationally. 

The Clean Slate Initiative’s nationwide policy model empowers states to automatically seal or expunge qualifying criminal records. In the vast majority of states, record clearance is only possible through a time intensive and costly petition-based process, which is inaccessible for the vast majority of eligible people. The automatic “Clean Slate” process creates greater equity, consistency and cost-effectiveness through a streamlined clearance process that applies to all eligible records – regardless of a person’s race or wealth.

Automatic expungement will allow millions of people condemned to unjust sentences of unemployment, lack of housing and inability to get an education to access a real second chance, and it will release their families from serving their own unjust sentences. Nearly half of all U.S. children now have at least one parent with a criminal record. Any record — even a decades-old misdemeanor or an arrest that never led to conviction — can make it nearly impossible to get into college, find a job, secure a place to live or access a bank account. Nearly 9 in 10 employers, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 colleges use background checks to screen applicants. People with criminal records are half as likely as other jobseekers to get a callback from an employer. And on average, the wages of people who receive expungements increase by more than 20 percent just one year after a record has been cleared.

Learn more about the Clean Slate efforts in Delaware, Texas, New York and Oregon:

 

Clean Slate Delaware:

Clean Slate New York:

Clean Slate Texas

Clean Slate Oregon:

Additional Quotes:

  • “As we look to rebuild inclusively post-pandemic, businesses see innovations like Clean Slate legislation as crucial for getting people back to work.” Celia Ouellette, CEO of Responsible Business Initiative for Justice
  • “Automatic expungement is about more than giving individuals with past convictions a clean slate and the opportunity to move forward, it is about creating a more just and equitable society for all. When a person is able to obtain gainful employment, they can better support themselves, their families, their communities, and the entire state. In New York, we know that Clean Slate legislation is critical if we are ever to achieve racial, health and economic justice.”Victor Dempsey, Community Organizer, Legal Aid Society,  Clean Slate New York 

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About Clean Slate Initiative 

The Clean Slate Initiative is a bipartisan national movement to automate the clearing of criminal records that block second chances for tens of millions of Americans. Following decades of overcriminalization, between 70 million and 100 million Americans have some type of criminal record—nearly half of all children in America have a parent with a record. In the digital era, with nearly 9 in 10 employers now using criminal background checks, any criminal record—no matter how old or minor—can be a life sentence to poverty.