Lisa Blunt Rochester Intros Bill to Seal Criminal Records
Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE)introduced legislation earlier this month which would require criminal records to be sealed exactly one year after a person serves out their sentence, so long as they don’t commit crimes again. If passed, the Clean Slate Act would allow eligible individuals (those convicted of federal, nonviolent marijuana offenses or drug possession) who have previously served out their sentence, to submit a petition to a U.S. district court to get their records cleaned. The bill would also require district courts to keep track of data such as how many petitions are granted or rejected -- information that would be included in a public report. This is the latest in a string of bills that aim to reform federal drug laws, with a particular emphasis on cannabis. Persons with a marijuana possession convictions are disproportionately either people of color or at the bottom of the economic ladder. Even a minor record can create lifelong barriers to employment, housing, education, and more, relegating many people with records and their families to a lifetime in poverty. “Your one or two encounters with the law should not stop you from supporting yourself or your family. This issue touches people’s ability to buy a home, to rent an apartment, to just live,” the Congresswoman said. “It was a no-brainer for me that this is an issue that cuts across parties.” More here.