A recent study by two University of Michigan researchers confirms the urgent need for automated expungement of criminal records. Sonja Starr and J.J. Prescott found that only 6.5 percent of people eligible to clear their records in Michigan actually successfully do so. The new research highlights how “administrative burdens” stand in the way of people getting the second chances they’ve earned. On the flip side, the study confirms the power of record-clearing, finding that a year after a record is cleared, wages go up 25 percent on average. Clean slate legislation that would implement automated record-clearing is expected to be introduced in Michigan later this year.
The New Haven Register: Nila Bala – Connecticut’s Clean Slate bill would help those locked out of work
Connecticut’s S.B. 691 would automatically expunge qualifying criminal records after someone remains crime-free for a set period of time, reopening previously closed doors to opportunity for thousands of individuals and improving the state’s economy by helping people with records get back to work. As Nila Bala, associate director of criminal justice policy for the R Street Institute and a former Baltimore public defender, notes, “We are a country built on redemption, and SB 691 would help to redeem thousands of individuals in Connecticut. Isn’t it time we gave those who have already paid their debt to society a real chance to rebuild their lives?”
As Easter and Passover come to a close, two faith leaders—Father David Blanchfield, pastor of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, and Rabbi Evan Schultz, senior rabbi at Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, Connecticut—are calling for the Connecticut Legislature to pass the Clean Slate Act. In Connecticut, the expungement process is expensive, difficult to navigate, and can take years to complete. Connecticut’s Clean Slate Act would change that by automatically expunging qualifying nonviolent criminal records to allow people to fully move on with their lives after paying their debt to society. As this holy period comes to a close, Blanchfield and Schultz are calling on lawmakers to act with grace to help those who have worked hard to correct past mistakes fully reenter society and have access to opportunities they have earned.
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) joined forces to introduce federal legislation known as the Clean Slate Act. The bill would automatically seal nonviolent marijuana offenses and simple possession of other drugs for people who have paid their debt to society. At a time when common ground between congressional Democrats and Republicans is rare, the Clean Slate Act is an opportunity to work across the aisle and remove barriers to employment, housing, and education for people held back by a drug record. This unlikely team is optimistic that congressional leadership will view the bill as a critically needed step to put second chances within reach.
A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Law School shows the benefits of giving people a clean slate. The good news: Within a year, people who have their criminal records expunged see their wages increase by more than 20 percent, on average. The bad news is that hardly anyone gets expungements because most people aren’t able to navigate the complex legal process. The policy upshot of this research is clear: Lawmakers need to make it much easier for people to actually clear their records and get a fresh start. States should follow the approach of the Pennsylvania Legislature and the recently introduced Utah and California bills and make expungement automatic once the legal requirements are met.