STATEMENT: Texas Makes Strides on Clean Slate Proposal for Nonviolent Offenders, Says CAP’s Carmel Martin
Washington, D.C. — The Texas House of Representatives passed S.B. 1902 on Thursday. The bill, which passed the Texas Senate earlier this month, would enable individuals with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions who have remained crime free for a period of time thereafter to petition the court for an order of nondisclosure to make their criminal records nonsearchable to the public. Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response:
“We commend the Texas House of Representatives for taking this important step to enable thousands of Texans to have a second chance. Having even a minor criminal record can present lifelong barriers to the basic building blocks of economic security and mobility, such as employment and housing, and can stand in the way of successful re-entry and participation in society. This has broad implications—not only for the individuals who are prevented from moving on with their lives and becoming productive citizens but also for their families, communities, and our national economy. By enabling certain individuals with low-level nonviolent convictions to earn a clean slate after remaining crime free, Texas stands to make a sizable dent in its poverty rate, to boost labor-force participation, and to save taxpayer dollars in reduced incarceration costs—all while increasing public safety. Other states should follow Texas’ lead and take similar common-sense action.”
For more information on this topic, check out the recent CAP report “One Strike and You’re Out” by Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich. The report addresses how mass incarceration and criminal records serve as underappreciated drivers of poverty and inequality in America by presenting barriers to employment, housing, education and training, building good credit, and more. The report offers a road map of policy recommendations, including how states should expand access to record clearing, to ensure that Americans with criminal records have a fair shot at making a decent living, providing for their families, and joining the middle class.
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Liz Bartolomeo at email@example.com or 202.481.8151.