Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pennsylvania, introduced on April 23 H.R. 2348, the Clean Slate Act.
The bipartisan bill would automatically seal an individual’s federal criminal record if they have been convicted of simple possession or any federal nonviolent offense involving marijuana, and it would create a groundbreaking new procedure that allows individuals to petition the U.S. Courts to seal records for nonviolent offenses that are not automatically sealed.
“If our goal is to reduce recidivism and improve the lives of millions of Americans, we cannot allow hardworking citizens who served their time to be defined by their worst mistakes in life. With an in-erasable criminal record, they are locked out of the American Dream. It becomes harder to get a good-paying job, pursue education or training, and own a home. This creates a system that leaves many hopeless and trapped in a cycle of poverty, and it is time we broke that cycle,” said Blunt Rochester. “The Clean Slate Act would ensure that people who pay their debt to society and stay on the straight and narrow can earn a second shot at a better life for themselves and their family. If enacted, this legislation would make meaningful strides in filling the 7.1 million unfilled jobs in our country and improve the everyday lives of 100 million Americans who have past records. I am honored to introduce this legislation alongside Congressman Reschenthaler, and I look forward to working with him to pass the Clean Slate Act and galvanize states across the country to take up similar criminal justice reform efforts.”
About nine in 10 employers, four in five landlords and three in five colleges use background check systems, which can result in a minor record or arrest leading to lifelong societal barriers, according to estimates from the Center for American Progress. By automatically sealing the records of nonviolent, marijuana offenders and creating a system for others who have paid their debt to society to have their records sealed, this bill will boost the U.S. economy by as much as $87 billion per year, create a second chance for re-entering citizens and reverse the long-term societal barriers and consequences created by U.S. drug enforcement policy.
Specifically, the Clean Slate Act would automatically seal an individual’s federal criminal record if they have been convicted of simple possession or any federal nonviolent offense involving marijuana; create a new procedure that allows individuals to petition the U.S. Courts to seal records for nonviolent offenses that are not automatically sealed; require, within 180 days, automatic sealing of arrest records and other related records for individuals that have been acquitted, exonerated or never had charges filed against them; create a two-year window for individuals to re-petition the court if their initial request was denied; authorize district courts to appoint a public defender to help indigent petitioners file and successfully seal their records; and
protect employers from liability for any claim arising out of the misconduct of an employee if the misconduct relates to a sealed criminal record.
For the full legislative text, visit bit.ly/2KZdtJk. For a fact sheet, visit bit.ly/2KZdFbw. The bill is endorsed by the Center for American Progress, FreedomWorks and Community Legal Services.