The goal of the National Record Clearing Project is to increase and improve record clearing around the country. Across the United States, an estimated one in three adults has a criminal record. Nearly one in two children have a parent with a criminal record. Criminal records prevent people from securing gainful employment, housing and education.
Record clearing is the most powerful tool we have to eliminate these collateral consequences, and many states have improved their record clearing laws in recent years. But record clearing policies are only effective if people can actually take advantage of them. According to a recent study, only 6.5% of people who were eligible for record clearing actually got it. This “second chance gap” has developed because people who are eligible for record clearing lack the knowledge, resources, and legal assistance they need.
Community Legal Services has launched the National Record Clearing Project to bring record clearing to scale and close the second chance gap. We help make record clearing more expansive and effective around the country by supporting advocates, direct-service lawyers and individuals with criminal records. We provide training, keep the community informed about important developments, and write amicus briefs to support important state litigation.
We also support largescale record clearing in our own backyard, by increasing public awareness of Clean Slate automated sealing in Pennsylvania. With Clean Slate, Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to seal records by automation, without the need for a petition in court. We expect to see 30 million cases sealed by automation by July 2020. Through the National Record Clearing Project we are getting the word out to Pennsylvanians, so that they understand how Clean Slate sealing works, whether they qualify, and if their record has been sealed.
Our work would not be possible without the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.