Help shrink the reach of the criminal legal system

Over 70 million people in America are living with a criminal record—that means one in three people face lifetime barriers to good jobs, housing, education, and more. While nearly every state has passed laws that allow people to seal or clear their criminal records, only 6% of eligible people have actually benefited from these laws because the petition-based process is overly complicated, burdensome, and costly.

At Code for America, we’re changing that. We’re working with governments and communities to make automatic record clearance—where states initiate and complete the clearance of all eligible records—the standard across the country. When this happens, those impacted can move forward with their lives.

We are working to shrink the criminal legal system and shift the role of government for people and communities impacted by the criminal legal system. With the right policies and implementation, government can support healthy communities, repair past wrongs, and invest in programs that tackle the root causes of violence, such as mental illness and poverty.

Your donation helps support our work to create systemic change, restore dignity, and create pathways to opportunity for all, especially those impacted by the criminal legal system.

Nearly half
of all children in the U.S. have at least one parent with a criminal record.
Only 6%
of people eligible for record clearance go through the confusing and costly petition-based process.
60%
of formerly incarcerated people are jobless.

A criminal record creates lifetime barriers for people trying to move forward with their lives, meet basic needs, and thrive in their chosen professional field. Decades of federal, state, and local criminal legal system policies and practices—like the War on Drugs and mass incarceration—disproportionately target Black people and people of color, making criminal records more common in these communities.

With technology and human-centered design, automatic record clearance helps reduce barriers imposed on people with criminal records and their families—and is more efficient for states. Learn more about why this mission is both critical and achievable.

Join us in shrinking the criminal legal system