Washington, D.C. — Today, Gov. John Carney (D) signed Delaware’s Clean Slate bills S. 111 and S. 112 into law, making Delaware the sixth state to adopt clean slate automatic record-sealing legislation. Following the signing ceremony, Nicole Lee Ndumele, senior vice president for rights and justice at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
In the digital era, with 9 in 10 employers, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 colleges and universities now using background checks to screen applicants, criminal records—no matter how old or minor—have become a life sentence to poverty. Today, with the stroke of a pen, Gov. Carney is unlocking a new era of opportunity for the nearly 300,000 Delawareans who will be able to apply for jobs, rent homes, and pursue educations without worrying that an old criminal record will stand in the way.
This new era of opportunity for Delawareans would not be possible without years of advocacy from state Sen. Darius Brown (D). The bills’ signing is also a result of the work of the Clean Slate Initiative, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware, the Delaware Coalition for Smart Justice, the Delaware Center for Justice, and Game Changers. CAP congratulates these advocates, Gov. Carney, and the Delaware General Assembly for taking this important step to build a faster, more inclusive economic recovery.
With Gov. Carney’s signature, Delaware joins a growing number of states that have embraced automated record-clearing laws as the clean slate model continues to gain traction in red, blue, and purple states alike. Pennsylvania became the first state to automate criminal record-clearing with the 2018 bipartisan Clean Slate Act. Pennsylvania sealed more than 35 million cases, helping more than 1 million Pennsylvanians move on with their lives since the law took effect in 2019. Utah became the second state to enact a clean slate law in March 2019, and Michigan followed suit in October 2020 with what is now the most expansive automated record-clearance law in the United States. Virginia enacted an automatic record-clearing law in January 2021, and Connecticut passed its own clean slate bill, which includes qualifying felonies, earlier this year. New Jersey has a task force charged with shaping an automated record-clearance program for the state, and California has adopted its own prospective-only automated record-clearance program. States as diverse as Washington state, North Carolina, Louisiana, and New York state have introduced or passed measures that move toward automated record-clearing, with momentum currently building in many more states—including in Oregon and Texas—where clean slate campaigns launched earlier this year. Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to create the first federal record-clearing remedy and to automatically clear certain federal records was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate in April 2021. Additionally, last month, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. David Trone (D-MD) introduced the Fresh Start Act to help states fund automatic record-clearing programs such as clean slate.
- “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
Learn more about automated record clearance at CleanSlateInitiative.org and track states’ progress on clean slate policies with the Clean Slate Initiative State Tracker.
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Julia Cusick at email@example.com.