A bipartisan pair of House members are making a push for a “second chance” law for people convicted of certain low-level federal offenses, Politico reports.
The Clean Slate Act, introduced by Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), April 23 would automatically seal the records of individuals convicted of simple possession of marijuana. It would also allow people to petition U.S. courts to seal records for other nonviolent crimes, including other drug offenses. The intention is to eliminate barriers to employment, education and housing that are common for people convicted of crimes.
“I’ve seen so many stories of people who, because of a minor offense, it has stuck with them for the rest of their lives,” said Blunt Rochester, calling the bill the “next logical step” after last year’s landmark package of sentencing and prison reform.
The bill has won support from what Blunt Rochester called “strange bedfellows” — the liberal Center for American Progress and the conservative FreedomWorks.
The new legislation resembles a push in Pennsylvania, which is the first state with a “clean slate” law for certain nonviolent offenses, a bill Reschenthaler helped pass as a state legislator last year. Both lawmakers hope the bill can be a rare area of common ground, as Senate GOP leaders have flatly rejected most bills sent to them by House Democrats.
Additional reading: A Fresh Start: Expunging Criminal Convictions