On November 15-16, 2018 the Center for American Progress (CAP) hosted a convening called, “Harnessing Technology to Close the Second Chance Gap.” The meeting was an extraordinary two-day launch of a national campaign to bring the Clean Slate automated record clearing pioneered in Pennsylvania to the rest of the country.
Community Legal Services, Inc. (CLS) partnered with CAP in the presentation of the event. We also partnered with CAP to bring the Clean Slate Act (Act 56) to Pennsylvania.
The public event on November 15th was highlighted by a demonstration of the bipartisan support of Clean Slate by two influential speakers from opposite ends of the political spectrum: David Plouffe, now director of policy for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and former campaign manager for President Obama; and Mark Holden, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Koch Industries. This unusual partnership was emphasized in a Washington Post story.
The second day was a private roundtable attended by invitees from around the country interested in the details of Clean Slate for potential replication.
Rebecca Vallas, Vice-President of the Poverty to Prosperity Program for CAP, hosted the event and oversaw the creation of a plethora of outstanding materials about Clean Slate.
- A robust new website (take a look at the animated “explainer”);
- A Clean Slate Advocacy toolkit;
- The story of Donna, a CLS client, that was featured on TalkPoverty;
- The release of a video by Players Coalition member Malcolm Jenkins supporting the national Clean Slate campaign; and
- CAP’s OffKilter podcast, featuring CLS client Ronald Lewis and CLS Litigation Director Sharon Dietrich.
Replication efforts are well under way. H.R. 6677, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, would bring automated sealing to some federal nonviolent marijuana crimes, as well as more generally create a sealing remedy for other federal offenses. Active Clean Slate campaigns are underway in Michigan, Colorado, South Carolina, and Utah. Numerous others states have campaigns in the planning phase.
CLS is enormously pleased to see the concept of automated record clearing that we created with CAP become a paradigm change in record sealing. Instead of a negligible percentage of eligible people getting their records cleared by the help of lawyers, a large percentage will get them sealed without having to overcome procedural obstacles, and their lives will be changed for the better.
CLS is also delighted to display this model of our work at its best: devising powerful solutions for the problems that our clients bring to us and working with national partners to take those solutions elsewhere.