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April 28, 2023

Trone reintroduces bills aimed at streamlining sealing of arrest records for some eligible formerly incarcerated people

Credit: Tri-State Alert

28 April 2023- Today, Representatives David Trone (D-MD) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), co-chairs of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force, re-introduced two bills to streamline the sealing of eligible arrest records for individuals who have served their time and remained crime-free on both the state and federal levels.

After decades of overcriminalization, between 70 million and 100 million Americans have criminal records that appear in routine background checks, preventing them from obtaining jobs, housing, and educational opportunities. Millions of these individuals are eligible to have their records sealed or expunged, but less than 10 percent have done so because the process is far too expensive, time-consuming, and complicated.

Trone is joined by Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC) in re-introducing the bipartisan Fresh Start Act to provide states with funding to implement an automatic record sealing or expungement program to quickly clear eligible criminal records and allow individuals to move forward in life.

Blunt Rochester is joined by Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC) in re-introducing the Clean Slate Act to automatically seal federal arrest records for those not convicted and records for those convicted of low-level, nonviolent drug offenses after successfully completing their sentences. Representatives David Trone (D-MD), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Byron Donalds (R-FL), and Annie Kuster (D-NH) are all original cosponsors.

“As co-chairs of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force, Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester and I are committed to introducing common-sense, data-driven policies that break down barriers to successful reentry,” said Congressman David Trone. ”The United States has the highest recidivism rate in the world because we neglect to give folks a real second chance when they’re released from prison. We need to do our part in fixing current practices that only perpetuate the systemic racism communities of color have experienced for decades. The Clean Slate and Fresh Start Acts deliver on that commitment.”

“With 9 in 10 employers conducting background checks, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 universities doing the same, we know just 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 Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “That’s why I’m so pleased to be introducing both the Clean Slate Act and Fresh Start Act this Congress alongside my fellow Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force Co-Chair Rep. David Trone. As we continue to face workforce shortages impacting industries across the country and our economy, it’s never been more important to do all we can to create equitable economic opportunity for millions of Americans, and these bills will help us in our mission to do just that. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle and across Congress to pass these much-needed pieces of legislation and send them to President Biden’s desk.”

“In America, we believe in giving people second chances and this legislation provides a path for individuals who have paid their debt to society to move forward with their lives, ” said Congresswoman Nancy Mace. “The Fresh Start Act will remove barriers to employment and education for those who have been involved with the justice system, enabling them to contribute positively to their communities. This is not only the right thing to do, but it will also promote economic growth and reduce recidivism.”

“The Fresh Start Act, aptly introduced during Second Chance Month, will provide state and local governments with the resources needed to implement automated record-sealing and expungement laws. If passed, this law will unlock second chances for millions of Americans and help set formerly incarcerated people on a pathway to prosperity,” said Anthony Lamorena, Senior Federal Affairs Manager at the R Street Institute. “The R Street Institute is happy to support this important legislation, and we applaud Rep. David Trone (D-MD) for his steadfast leadership and bipartisan approach to working on this vital issue.”

“The Clean Slate Act and Fresh Start Act are common-sense reforms that will help give people who have fulfilled their justice system obligations a second chance,” said Nan Gibson, Executive Director, JPMorgan Chase PolicyCenter. “By creating a process for clearing low-level nonviolent federal records, and streamlining the process through automation, the Clean Slate Act will help people pursue stable career opportunities. The Fresh Start Act would help states that have passed Clean Slate laws improve their justice system infrastructure and automate the record clearing process for eligible state offenses. These measures will enable companies like JPMorgan Chase, where about 10 percent of our new hires annually in the US have previous records with no bearing on their roles, continue to connect individuals to meaningful career pathways, opening doors to opportunities that transform lives, lift up communities and strengthen the economy.”

For Fresh Start Act one-pager, click here.

For Fresh Start Act bill text, click here.