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End Mass Incarceration
Policy Library

Increasing Job Opportunities with the Clean Slate Act

Low level criminal offenses can stay with individuals throughout their life, impacting employment opportunities, educational attainment, and housing for their families. The entire state is hurt when qualified people are locked out of the job market because of a permanent mark on their record. The Clean Slate Act seals some non-violent criminal records for people who have served their sentences and remained crime-free. It’s a low-cost way to provide a path toward better jobs and reduce burdens on the criminal justice system.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

Pennsylvania, Utah

Introduced in:

Connecticut (12), Louisiana

In The News

“‘…These sealing initiatives are an incredibly important way of expanding opportunity for the 70 million Americans who have criminal records. We all believe in redemption, but people who have been arrested or convicted of a crime are punished for life even though they have served their sentence and paid their debt to society. This means people have a problem getting jobs, supporting their families and finding housing.’”
“‘I have a bachelor’s degree. I’m married — I’ll be with my husband for 11 years — and I have three kids. I got bills, and I got student loans, and I have a hard time with a job. Every time I apply, they tell me either I’m overqualified or I can’t get it because of my background’ [said Tyeisha, who asked only to be identified by her first name].”
“New research from the University of Michigan shows just how life-changing this can be. Researchers found that in Michigan, the wages of people who receive expungements increase by more than 20 percent in the year following their expungement. What’s more, the researchers found that people who receive expungements tend to remain crime free and actually broke the law at lower rates than Michigan’s general adult population.”

Partners

  • Criminal justice reform advocates
  • Community reintegration groups
  • Taxpayers

Opposition

None noted
Call us for real-time support using this library, problem-solving tips, and follow-up from our team of national experts:
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FAQ

Who does this help?
This helps millions of people who have served their time for nonviolent, low-level offenses. With expunged records, the ability to get a self-sustaining job increases. Further, studies have shown that people who have their records cleared are less likely to commit additional crimes, thereby reducing recidivism, cutting incarceration costs, and protecting public safety.
Is this high-cost to the state?
The automatic sealing process reduces the costs of record clearing petitions, reducing costs for overtaxed courts. Moreover, increased employment among those who have had their records cleared will expand the tax base.
Who can view a sealed record?
A person’s record will still be able to be viewed by law enforcement entities, employers who are required to consider records under federal law, and employers who utilize FBI background checks.
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Model Policy

SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the Clean Slate Act.

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
To automatically seal certain criminal records

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) Criminal history record information shall be disseminated by a State or local police department to any individual or noncriminal justice agency only upon request. The following apply:
  • (i) Before a State or local police department disseminates criminal history record information to an individual or noncriminal justice agency, it shall extract from the record the following:
  • (1) All notations of arrests, indictments or other information relating to the initiation of criminal proceedings where:
  • (A) two years have elapsed from the date of arrest;
  • (B) no disposition is indicated in the record; and
  • (C) nothing in the record indicates that proceedings seeking conviction remain pending.
  • (2) All information relating to a conviction or nonconviction final disposition and the arrest, indictment or other information leading to the arrest or indictment which is subject to a court order for limited access as provided in (b) or (c).
  • (ii) A court or STATE administrative agency may not disseminate to an individual, a noncriminal justice agency or an Internet website any information which is the subject of a court order for limited access as provided in (b) or (c). This shall not apply:
  • (1) To the verification of information provided by an applicant if Federal Law, including rules and regulations promulgated by a self-regulatory organization that has been created under Federal Law, requires the consideration of an applicant's criminal history for purposes of employment.
  • (2) To the verification of information provided to the STATE Supreme Court, or an entity of the Supreme Court, in its capacity to govern the practice, procedure and conduct of all courts, the admission to the bar, the practice of law, the administration of all courts and supervision of all officers of the judicial branch.

(b) Upon petition of a person who has been free from conviction for a period of 7 years for an offense punishable by one or more years in prison and has completed the sentence, a court of common pleas in the jurisdiction where a conviction occurred may enter an order that criminal history record information maintained by a criminal justice agency pertaining to a qualifying misdemeanor or an ungraded offense which carries a maximum penalty of no more than five years be disseminated only to a criminal justice agency.

(c) The following shall be subject to limited access:
  • (i) Criminal history record information pertaining to a conviction of a misdemeanor if a person has been free for 5 years from conviction for any offense punishable by imprisonment of one or more years and if completion of the sentence has occurred.
  • (ii) Criminal history record information pertaining to charges which resulted in a final disposition other than a conviction.
  • (iii) Criminal history record information pertaining to a conviction for a summary offense when 5 years have elapsed since entry of the judgment of conviction and completion of all court-ordered financial obligations of the sentence has occurred.

(d) On a monthly basis, the STATE COURT ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE shall transmit to the State Police central repository the record of any conviction eligible for limited access under this section.
  • (i) A criminal history record that is the subject of an order for limited access under this section shall be made available to a noncriminal justice agency only as provided for in section (a)(ii) or (g)(i).

(e) An individual may not be required or requested to disclose information about the individual's criminal history record that has been expunged or provided limited access under (b) or (c). An individual required or requested to provide information in violation of this section may respond as if the offense did not occur.

(f) An employer who employs or otherwise engages an individual whose criminal history record has been expunged or to which limited access has been applied under this section shall be immune from liability for any claim arising out of the misconduct of the individual, if the misconduct relates to the portion of the criminal history record that has been expunged or provided limited access.

(g) Exceptions
  • (i) (a) and (b) shall not apply if the request is made by a county children and youth agency or the State Department of Human Services in the performance of duties relating to children and youth under STATE LAW DESIGNED TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES OR OTHER RELEVANT STATE CHILD WELFARE ACTS, or:
  • (1) In a case brought under STATE LAW RELATING TO CHILD CUSTODY OR PROTECTION FROM ABUSE.
  • (2) By an employer against whom a claim of civil liability has been brought as described under (f) for purposes of defending against a claim of civil liability.
  • (ii) Petition for limited access under (b) shall not apply to:
  • (1) A conviction for an offense punishable by more than two years in prison which is any of the following or an attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any offense under STATE LAW relating to offenses involving danger to the person, violence against the family, firearms and other dangerous articles, or sexual offenses.
  • (2) An individual who meets any of the following:
  • (A) Has been convicted of murder, a felony of the first degree or an offense punishable by imprisonment of 20 or more years.
  • (B) Has been convicted within the previous 20 years of: (aa) a felony or an offense punishable by imprisonment of seven or more years, or (bb) four or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of two or more years.
  • (C) Has, within the previous 15 years, been convicted of: (aa) two or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of more than two years; or (bb) an offense under STATE LAW relating to indecent exposure, relating to weapons or implements for escape, relating to sexual intercourse with an animal, relating to abuse of corpse, or relating to prohibiting of paramilitary training.
  • (iii) Limited access to records under (c) shall not be granted for any of the following:
  • (1) A conviction for any of the following or an attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the following: An offense relating to offenses involving danger to the person, relating to offenses against the family, relating to firearms and other dangerous articles, relating to sexual offenses, relating to human trafficking, or relating to cruelty to animals, under STATE LAW.
  • (2) An individual who at any time has been convicted of:
  • (A) A felony.
  • (B) Two or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of more than two years.
  • (C) Four or more offenses punishable by imprisonment of one or more years.
  • (D) An offense under the following: relating to indecent exposure, relating to sexual intercourse with an animal, relating to abuse of corpse, relating to gun violence, relating to prohibiting of paramilitary training, under STATE LAW.
  • (3) This shall not apply to an otherwise qualifying conviction if a conviction for an offense punishable by imprisonment of five or more years or an offense enumerated in (A) arose out of the same case.
  • (4) Nothing in this section shall preclude the filing of a petition for limited access under (b) if limited access is available under that section.
  • (iv) Orders limiting (d) shall be transmitted to the state police:
  • (A) Upon petition of the prosecuting attorney to the court where a conviction occurred, and with notice to the defendant and opportunity to be heard, the court shall vacate an order for limited access granted under (c) if the court determines that the order was erroneously entered and not in accordance with (c).
  • (B) Upon conviction of a misdemeanor or felony offense and motion of the prosecuting attorney, the court shall enter an order vacating any prior order for limited access pertaining to a record of the defendant, except for criminal history record information pertaining to charges which resulted in a final disposition other than a conviction.
  • (v) (e) shall not apply if requested or required by a criminal justice agency, or if disclosure to noncriminal justice agencies is authorized or required this section.
  • (A) This exception shall not apply if Federal law, including rules and regulations promulgated by a self-regulatory organization that has been created under Federal law, requires the consideration of an applicant's criminal history for purposes of employment.
  • (B) An expunged record or a record subject to limited access under this section may not be considered a conviction that would prohibit the employment of a person under State or Federal Law that prohibit employment based on State convictions to the extent permitted by Federal Law.