Episode five of The Right On Crime Podcast presents a conversation on the impact and potential of Clean Slate legislation in Texas, Oklahoma, and states across the nation. Clean Slate Initiative’s National Campaign Manager Jesse Kelley joins ROC Directors Nikki Pressley and Marilyn Davidson to discuss why the issue of record clearance is grabbing the attention of state lawmakers nationwide.

Criminal records cost our nation tens of billions of dollars every year, and when you consider that 1-in-3 Americans has a criminal record, you begin to understand the repercussions that follow a person for the rest of their lives, even after they have completed their sentence and met all court requirements. The prejudice can impact a job, housing, and opportunities for a second chance. 

“The first Clean Slate bill passed in 2018 in Pennsylvania,” said Jesse Kelley, National Campaign Director for the Clean Slate Initiative. “Since then, 2.3 million people have had at least one non-conviction cleared. 7.3 million people have had a conviction cleared and two million people have received full record clearance since we started this movement. So, it is really making a big difference in the lives of people and their communities.”

Right On Crime Oklahoma Director, Marilyn Davidson adds, “We’re not trying to change who is and who is not eligible. It is all about making this process easier for people who have the felonies and for the agencies that are trying to process the expungements already allowed by state law. Right now, only 6.5% of those eligible for expungement are getting it. The process in Oklahoma, before Clean Slate legislation passed earlier this year, required an attorney, a lot of red tape and all of the fees that go along with filing for an expungement. It’s cost prohibitive. I’m excited to see the implementation in 2023.”

Nikki Pressley, Texas Director of Right On Crime, said that Texas has a non-disclosure system. Kelley added that Delaware has a sealing system, and in Connecticut, formerly convicted individuals must go through a modified pardon system. Currently eight states have passed a version of Clean Slate legislation.

Pressley said, “Semantics matter. The meaning of Clean Slate legislation is not automatic expungement. It’s automated. It’s the same process already allowed by law, but most courts are still doing it by hand. With legislation and proper funding, using technology for automated record clearance can streamline our court systems.”

Pressley and Kelley are cautiously optimistic about the potential of improving the record clearing process for Texans in the 88thLegislative Session. For more information about Clean Slate legislation in Texas, visit www.CleanSlateTexas.org.

The Right On Crime Podcast  features conservative conversations, policy, and best practices on criminal justice innovation in America.