States across the country are taking action to enact clean slate policies. This toolkit includes the following ways to join the campaign and take action: talking points, frequently asked questions, sample op-eds, sample letters to the editor, and sample social media and shareable graphics.
Ronald Lewis, a father from Philadelphia, has spent nearly 15 years trying to put his past behind him. L has only a minor conviction record from 2004, but his criminal record continues to create obstacles to economic stability for him and his family. As Ronald shares in this video, he is a different person than he was when he was arrested—and with a clean slate, his record will finally match the person he is today.
Between 70 million and 100 million Americans has some type of criminal record, which can serve as a barrier to employment, housing, education, family reunification, and more. For 1 in 3 Americans with a criminal record, that can also mean a life sentence to poverty. This roundup summarizes key research on the barriers people with records might face and strategies, such as record-clearing, for removing barriers to opportunity for people with records.
Clean slate bolsters the economy by expanding access to work for job seekers with criminal records, explains Uber’s senior manager for public affairs in Pennsylvania. If just 100 people with criminal records were able to secure jobs in the region, it would yield $55 million in wages and $1.9 million in taxable income over the course of a lifetime. Automatic record-clearing proposals, such as Pennsylvania’s clean slate law, help ensure that a past mistake does not stand in the way of earning a living.
For Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, and Torrey Smith, a day off from their full-time jobs as players for the Philadelphia Eagles consists of meetings about criminal justice reform with Pennsylvania states legislators. Jenkins, Long, and Smith are fierce advocates for clean slate legislation, which automatically seals criminal records for people with minor, nonviolent convictions who have stayed crime-free for 10 years. Sealing criminal records is a way for people otherwise barred from jobs, education, and housing, to receive a second chance at life.
Despite their political differences, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Wagner (R-28) and Pennsylvania Rep. Jordan Harris (D-186) are teaming up to push the Clean Slate Act—a bill that would automatically seal criminal records for people who stay out of trouble. They’ve brought together a diverse coalition of bipartisan lawmakers in support of the bill, which has also earned approval from more than 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters. With strong support on both sides of the aisle, Pennsylvania’s bill is poised to become the first clean slate law in the country.
Experts from the Economic Advisory Board of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, as well as the American Enterprise Institute, gathered at the White House to host a bipartisan discussion on criminal justice reform. The panel found that current criminal justice laws fuel mass incarceration, are a financial drain on society, and prevent formerly incarcerated people from successfully re-entering society after their debt has been paid. Nevertheless, experts across the political spectrum agree that there are cost effective, commonsense policy reforms that can be made.