Washington, D.C. — On Monday, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-OK) signed into law H.B. 3316, a clean slate measure that automatically expunges old criminal records for those who have served their time. The bipartisan-backed legislation was passed with overwhelming support in the Oklahoma Legislature last week. Colorado also recently approved a similar measure, which is awaiting signature by the governor.
In response, Akua Amaning, director for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
This bill is a huge victory for Oklahomans who want to move forward and rebuild their lives after paying their debt to society. It’s great to see Oklahoma and Colorado join the growing ranks of states that recognize the need for equitable reentry measures through processes that automatically clear old criminal records. This will allow more than 100,000 Oklahomans to be set free from the lasting stigma and barriers that stem from having a criminal record. In addition, the measure will help reduce recidivism rates and improve public safety overall.
In this current era, with 9 in 10 employers, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 colleges and universities now using background checks to screen applicants, a criminal record—no matter how old or minor—can be an unjust barrier for people who are trying to rebuild their lives. Record-clearance measures can help eliminate or drastically reduce the collateral consequences that stem from a criminal record.
Moreover, clean slate measures such as this one are much more effective than reliance on a complex court petitioning process that is expensive and can require time away from work and child care responsibilities. Under the old system, roughly 93.5 percent of Oklahoma’s expungement-eligible records remain unsealed.
- “A Criminal Record Shouldn’t Be a Life Sentence to Poverty” by Rebecca Vallas, Sharon Dietrich, and Beth Avery
- “Advancing Clean Slate: The Need for Automatic Record Clearance During the Coronavirus Pandemic” by Akua Amaning
- “Update to ‘News You Can Use: Research Roundup for Re-Entry Advocates’” by the CAP Poverty Team, Kenny Lo, and Akua Amaning
- “PA Clean Slate: Delivering on Its Promises” by Sharon M. Dietrich, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
- “Criminal records can be a ‘life sentence to poverty.’ This state is automatically sealing some.” by Hannah Knowles, The Washington Post
- “Why states are rushing to seal tens of millions of old criminal records,” The Economist
- “The Case for Expunging Criminal Records” by J.J. Prescott and Sonja B. Starr, The New York Times
- “One Strike and You’re Out: How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records” by Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich
- “Removing Barriers to Opportunity for Parents With Criminal Records and Their Children: A Two-Generation Approach” by Rebecca Vallas, Melissa Boteach, Rachel West, and Jackie Odum
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at firstname.lastname@example.org.