House Judiciary Committee Advances Reps. Blunt Rochester, Reschenthaler Criminal Justice Reform Bill
Washington, September 21, 2022 | Andrew Donnelly (302-893-4406)
WASHINGTON – Today, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 2864, the Clean Slate Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (D-Pa.) to give more than 70 million Americans with low-level and nonviolent criminal records a second chance to fully participate in society. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) have introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
The legislation would remove major barriers for many Americans in finding employment, securing housing, and accessing education by automatically sealing the federal records of individuals convicted of low-level, nonviolent drug offenses after they successfully complete their sentence.
“Since coming to Congress, the Clean Slate Act has been one of my top priorities. With 9 in 10 landlords conducting background checks, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 universities doing the same, we know how critical it is to give those who have served their time and paid their debt to society a clean slate and a second chance,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “I’m thrilled that, today, the Judiciary Committee decided to advance the bill through the legislative process, moving us one step closer to the Clean Slate Act becoming law. I look forward to working with my colleagues in continuing to advance this critical piece of legislation so that every American has a fair shot at education, housing, and employment.”
“As a former district judge, I saw how difficult it is for Americans with low-level and nonviolent criminal records to live a life of dignity after paying their debt to society. That’s why, as a Pennsylvania State Senator, I championed the passage of a bipartisan Clean Slate bill to offer past offenders an opportunity to live a different life,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “I am proud to continue this effort at the federal level with Rep. Blunt Rochester and grateful to our colleagues for passing the Clean Slate Act out of committee. I urge the House to bring this legislation to combat crime by reducing recidivism to the floor for a vote as soon as possible.”
More than one in three adults have some form of a criminal record, keeping them from participating in many facets of everyday life as nearly nine in ten employers, four in five landlords, and three in five colleges utilize background checks to screen applicants.
Currently, the federal government lacks any meaningful way to clear federal criminal records, regardless of whether they resulted in an actual conviction. The Clean Slate Act aims to address this issue by automatically sealing federal arrest records for individuals not convicted and records for individuals convicted of low-level, nonviolent drug offenses after successfully completing their sentence. It would also establish new procedures to allow individuals to petition to seal records for other nonviolent offenses that are not automatically sealed.
The Clean Slate Act is endorsed by Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, Brennan Center for Justice, Business Roundtable, Center for American Progress, Code for America, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Due Process Institute, Faith and Freedom Coalition, JPMorgan Chase, Justice Action Network, R Street Institute, Responsible Business Initiative, Right on Crime, and Walmart.