States across the country are taking action to enact clean slate policies. This toolkit includes the following ways to join the campaign and take action: talking points, frequently asked questions, sample op-eds, sample letters to the editor, and sample social media and shareable graphics.
Despite their political differences, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Wagner (R-28) and Pennsylvania Rep. Jordan Harris (D-186) are teaming up to push the Clean Slate Act—a bill that would automatically seal criminal records for people who stay out of trouble. They’ve brought together a diverse coalition of bipartisan lawmakers in support of the bill, which has also earned approval from more than 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters. With strong support on both sides of the aisle, Pennsylvania’s bill is poised to become the first clean slate law in the country.
Experts from the Economic Advisory Board of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, as well as the American Enterprise Institute, gathered at the White House to host a bipartisan discussion on criminal justice reform. The panel found that current criminal justice laws fuel mass incarceration, are a financial drain on society, and prevent formerly incarcerated people from successfully re-entering society after their debt has been paid. Nevertheless, experts across the political spectrum agree that there are cost effective, commonsense policy reforms that can be made.
Pennsylvania Rep. Jordan Harris (D-186) announces the introduction of the Clean Slate Act, supported by a broad coalition of advocates, district attorneys, and lawmakers across party lines. The first-in-the-nation legislation, which is co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-88), would automatically seal eligible criminal records for Pennsylvanians who remain crime-free for a set period of time. A similar version of the bill has been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate, with support from Pennsylvania Sens. Scott Wagner (R-28) and Anthony Williams (D-8).
Removing Barriers to Opportunity for Parents With Criminal Records and Their Children: A Two-Generation Approach
Analysis from the Center for American Progress finds that nearly half of American children have at least one parent with a criminal record. The barriers associated with a parent’s record can undermine family stability and limit a child’s long-term cognitive development, educational achievement, and even their future employment outcomes.
Clean slate is a win for Pennsylvanians with records and their families; for businesses and taxpayers; and for the safety of communities across the commonwealth. Automatic record-clearing helps everyday Pennsylvanians get back to work and build a better life for their families, keeping people in the workforce and out of jail. That means lower unemployment and recidivism rates, fewer taxpayer dollars spent on correctional costs, and better outcomes for all Pennsylvanians.
One Strike and You’re Out: How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records
Following decades of overcriminalization, between 70 million and 100 million Americans now have some type of criminal record. Any —no matter how old or minor—can be a lifelong barrier to employment and economic mobility. This report provides a blueprint for policymakers and advocates to ensure that a criminal record is not a life sentence to poverty.