In Utah, current law allows people with certain criminal records to petition to have their records cleared. However, the process is often so long, confusing, and expensive, that thousands of people who are eligible don’t pursue the option. Clean slate legislation uses technology to automate the record-clearing process, which reduces the administrative burden for the state and removes barriers that prevent people who have paid their debt to society from getting a fair shot at a second chance.
Under the current petition-based process, thousands of Utahns who are eligible to have their records cleared are forced to pay hundreds of dollars in attorney and filing fees to navigate an outdated expungement process. Clean slate legislation sponsored by Utah state Rep. Eric Hutchings (R) would fix that. By using technology to automatically clear records for people already eligible, Utah’s clean slate legislation would save Utah money and help thousands of the state’s citizens get back to work.
In an op-ed for The Hill, Gov. Tom Wolf discusses how thousands of Pennsylvanians are one step closer to a second chance thanks to the state’s bipartisan criminal justice clean slate legislation that took effect in December 2018. Clean slate legislation not only removes barriers to opportunity for people with criminal records, but it also saves millions of taxpayer dollars and make communities safer.
In New York, more than 600,000 people are eligible to have their criminal records sealed, but only 825 people have done so. Many people are simply unaware that they are eligible for record sealing, and many more can’t navigate the process on their own. In the digital era, criminal records are available to employers, landlords, colleges, and universities. That means that any run-in with the law—no matter how long ago or how minor—can be a barrier to opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people. Clean slate legislation does the important work of automating record-clearing processes to ensure people with records get a real shot at a second chance.
In 2015, Mikhail Arroyo had a debilitating fall. After emerging from a coma, he was transferred to a nursing home in 2016. Months after the initial accident, with the help of a wheelchair and slowly regaining his speech, Mikhail left the nursing home under the care of his mother. The only problem: He had been flagged by a background check agency and was not allowed to move into the new apartment his mother found for them. When he was 20 years old, Arroyo was arrested for a retail theft of less than $150. That single interaction with the law followed Mikhail until 2017, when his lawyers helped him challenge the restrictions from the housing agency. Mikhail is one of thousands of people shut out of housing, education, and jobs because of a criminal record. Clean slate legislation could help people like Mikhail, by automatically clearing records and giving people the second chance they deserve.
Under Pennsylvania’s clean slate law, hundreds of thousands of residents will have their criminal records sealed, helping them get the second chance that they deserve. Starting the new year with commonsense reform, Gov. Tom Wolf and a bipartisan coalition of legislators are making the essential choice to “hold [people] to account for what they have done right.”