Momentum continues to grow for automatic record clearance. We’re excited that Oklahoma and Colorado have officially passed Clean Slate laws — meaning millions of people will get relief from old criminal records. These states join California, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia in automatically clearing records when they become eligible. Moreover, Rhode Island will automatically clearance cannabis convictions as a part of its new legalization law.
Automatic record clearance means that government proactively clears eligible criminal records instead of putting the burden to do so on people impacted. This is the equitable path forward, which opens up economic opportunities for millions of people across the country.
We are proud to have partnered with the Oklahoma Policy Institute, the Clean Slate Colorado Coalition, Yes We Cannabis RI, the Marijuana Policy Project, and the Last Prisoner Project to help design policy that is implementable and impactful.
Criminal records create lifelong barriers to living-wage jobs, stable housing, education, and much more. Decades of federal, state, and local policies and practices — like the failed War on Drugs, which disproportionately targeted Black people and communities of color — have made it so that one in three people in America has a criminal record. That’s not justice.
A criminal record should not be a life sentence to poverty. That’s why the passage of these laws represents a huge step in the right direction. Code for America is continuing to work with states to ensure more policies are passed and effectively implemented, so that millions of people across the nation can get the fresh start they need and deserve through automatic record clearance.