State-Level Reforms Break through to Capitol Hill
(Washington, DC) – The Justice Action Network, the largest bipartisan organization working to reform the justice system at the state and federal levels, applauds Representatives Rod Blum (R-IA) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) for introducing the “Clean Slate Act,” legislation that would give individuals who have a criminal record at the federal level a second chance to fulfill their potential and become productive members of society.
“A criminal record can be a life sentence for those who struggle to find jobs or support their families after they’ve paid their debt,” said Holly Harris, Executive Director of the Justice Action Network. “Individuals who turn their lives around deserve a fresh start. This bill offers hope and opportunity to thousands of Americans who struggle to successfully reenter society because of the barriers placed in front of them. When we give people the tools they need to succeed, we’re all better off.”
The “Clean Slate Act” would allow individuals convicted of federal simple possession offenses or a marijuana offense to have their criminal records automatically sealed one year after the person has completed his or her sentence. Further, the legislation allows individuals convicted of certain nonviolent offenses that are not covered by automatic sealing to file a petition with a District Court to seal their records one year after completing their sentences.
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to pass “Clean Slate” legislation, which allows individuals convicted of nonviolent misdemeanor offenses to have their criminal records sealed after they’ve remained crime-free for a period of 10 years. This bill is modeled on that landmark legislation, which is a signature policy achievement of the Center for American Progress, which worked with conservative groups like FreedomWorks on the initiative.
“We are encouraged to see members of Congress looking to successful legislative efforts in states like Pennsylvania, where they are breaking down barriers to employment and ensuring a fresh start is available to people in all communities,” said Harris. “The states have always served as laboratories of policy and innovation, and we urge Congress to follow their lead and pass the federal clean slate bill.”
The Justice Action Network is the largest 501(c)4 organization in the country devoted to bipartisan cooperation in the criminal justice reform space. From state houses to the White House, the Justice Action Network’s partners from the right to the left have paved the way for lifechanging criminal justice reforms including sentencing reform, prison reform, bail reform, dignity for incarcerated women, and so much more. For more information on their work, visit www.justiceactionnetwork.org.