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.
Nearly 1 in 3 Pennsylvania adults has some type of criminal record—creating obstacles to education, housing, and employment. Monday, Pennsylvania’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved clean slate legislation, which would automatically seal minor, nonviolent criminal records for people who have remained crime-free for 10 years. The measure, which has bipartisan support, is also supported by 81 percent of Pennsylvanians.
A 2018 study from the Center for American Progress finds that, across party lines, American voters believe people who have paid their debt to society deserve a second chance. The poll finds 70 percent support for clean slate automated record-clearing, including 75 percent support among Democrats and 66 percent support among Republicans.
People with criminal records face barriers to jobs, training, education, and housing every day—which can often lead to a lifetime of poverty. By sharing first-hand experiences, people with criminal records can make their voices heard and raise awareness about unjust policies and practices that prevent people who have paid their debt to society from getting a second chance.
Occupational licensing laws govern who can and cannot work in certain professions—and many of these laws shut out entire swaths of the workforce based on their criminal record. This analysis finds that such provisions not only harm job seekers with records, but also violate the constitutional rights to equal protection and due process and undermine the safety of our communities. Accordingly, policymakers should follow the lead of states that have successfully changed or removed barriers to occupational licenses.
A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute shows that while job seekers with criminal records face additional barriers during the hiring process, most employers are open to hiring people with criminal histories. Roughly two-thirds of human resources professionals indicated that their organization has experience hiring justice-involved employees, and the majority of workers at all levels indicated willingness to work with individuals with criminal records. Importantly, human resources professionals and managers report that the employees with criminal records perform just as well as—or better than—workers without records.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced a new partnership with Code For America to develop and implement an automated criminal record-clearing process, starting with convictions eligible under Proposition 64 to legalize marijuana. The innovative partnership will restore opportunity to thousands of individuals with marijuana convictions, with no action required from the individual and little staff time or resources from the district attorney’s office. Code for America plans to expand the pilot program to bring automated record clearing to other counties in California, with the goal of clearing 250,000 records by 2019.