Clean Slate Act would seal records for non-violent offenders

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Published: May. 1, 2023 at 1:00 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - North Dakota Representative Kelly Armstrong is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill that he says would increase employment opportunities for North Dakotans who have earned a second chance.

The Clean Slate act would automatically seal arrest records of people acquitted of their charges, and those convicted of low-level, non-violent drug offenses who have completed their sentences. It would also seal records of non-violent federal crimes for people who have maintained a clean record for an extended period of time. The bill would not apply to people convicted of violent crimes.

Similar clean slate laws have been passed in ten states since 2018, and eleven others have active legislation to automatically expunge records.

”Within the first year of getting an expungement in Michigan, the person sees a 23-percent increase in income and is 11-percent more likely to be employed,” said John Cooper with Peace and Justice Michigan.

The Deputy Director of Justice Action Network agrees: “Sealing records for non-violent offenses opens employment, education and housing opportunities for individuals who have earned a true second chance,” said Inimai Chettiar. “The Clean Slate Act will make communities safer, help rebuild our economy, and provide a meaningful second chance at success to people who’ve paid their debt to society.”

Those in favor of clean slate laws say convictions often trigger indefinite consequences that can be tough to overcome, even after a person has done their time and remained crime free. The Clean Slate Act aims to reduce reentry barriers for housing and employment, two critical factors in reducing recidivism rates.

Armstrong and co-sponsor David Trone of Maryland are also co-founders and co-chairs of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force.