Following decades of overcriminalization in the United States, between 70 million and 100 million—or 1 in 3—Americans now have some type of criminal record. As the number of Americans with criminal records has exploded, so have the laws and legal restrictions barring access to jobs, housing, credit, and other basics; today, people with criminal records potentially face nearly 50,000 such restrictions. Meanwhile, in the digital era, nearly 9 in 10 employers, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 colleges now use criminal background checks to screen applicants. As a result, any criminal record—no matter how old or minor—can be a life sentence to poverty.
Millions of individuals are eligible to have their records expunged or sealed in court. But the complex process for filing a record-clearing petition—not to mention the exorbitant legal costs—means that the vast majority of Americans never get the relief they need and deserve, a problem increasingly known as the second chance gap.
Fortunately, a new policy called “clean slate” offers a solution: automated record-clearing for people who remain crime-free for a set period of time. Bipartisan clean slate legislation was signed into law in Pennsylvania in June 2018, and now the policy is gaining bipartisan momentum in states across the country, with 70 percent of Americans supporting clean slate policies, across party lines.
Please join the Center for American Progress and partners for a conversation featuring “strange bedfellow” political leaders from both sides of the aisle, as well as cross-sector advocates, policymakers, and funders leading the way to advance clean slate in the states. At a time when it seems Americans can’t agree on anything, clean slate represents a rare opportunity for bipartisan progress.
David Plouffe, Head of Policy & Advocacy, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Mark Holden, General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Koch Industries
Neera Tanden, President and CEO, Center for American Progress
Tori Verber Salazar, District Attorney, San Joaquin County, California
Daryl V. Atkinson, Co-Founder, Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted Peoples and Families Movement; Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Sharon Dietrich, Litigation Director and Managing Attorney, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
Tameshia Bridges Mansfield, Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Jared Rodriguez, President and CEO, Calder Group; Business Coalition, Safe and Just Michigan
Rebecca Vallas, Vice President, Poverty to Prosperity Program, Center for American Progress