Thousands of Tennesseans who paid their debt for low-level crimes are getting help with expunging their records.
Clean Slate Clearinghouse
About the Project
The Clean Slate Clearinghouse (CSC) will provide information on current policies governing juvenile adjudication and adult criminal record clearance at a state level.
The National Landscape
As many as one in three adults in the U.S. has a criminal record. Any contact with the criminal justice system, including non-conviction arrests, can have long-lasting effects on a person’s employment, housing, educational and other opportunities despite research that indicates that criminal records lose their ability to predict future criminal conduct over time.
For the more than one million children charged with crimes in juvenile court each year, the record they acquire may hinder future attempts at gaining employment, housing, and even returning to school, effectively preventing them from starting their adult lives.
Importantly, the racial disparities already found in arrest and conviction rates are amplified in the collateral consequences of having a criminal record. Job applicants of color—particularly black men—with a criminal record are the least likely to achieve employment after conviction or incarceration.
Criminal record clearance—the ability to remove old criminal history information from public record—may provide an opportunity for people to move beyond their past. In addition, removing certain types of criminal records from public access may reduce employer concerns of liability.
Goals of the Project
CSC will help support criminal record clearance around the country by:
- Providing people with criminal records and non-legal service providers with accurate, up-to-date information on record clearance and mitigation as well as contact information for legal service providers;
- Creating a community of practice that supports legal service providers currently engaged in record clearance work and gives the tools and resources needed to support new legal service providers; and
- Giving policymakers the information needed to compare their state’s record clearance policies to the national and regional landscapes and to learn about best practices.
Following the launch of CSC, comprehensive training and technical assistance opportunities will be announced.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center will partner with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, the National Juvenile Defender Center, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities on CSC.
Other useful external resources:
- If you were a victim of human trafficking, visit the American Bar Association’s Survivor Reentry Project page page to learn more about how you may be able to clear your criminal record.
- If you are a non-citizen immigrant, visit the Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s Crimes page to learn more about potential criminal record clearance remedies.
- If you were convicted while serving in the military, read the U.S. Department of Justice’s instructions for applying for a federal pardon.
If you need more information, or have further questions about the Clean Slate Clearinghouse, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CSG Justice Center staff spoke with board member Michael Pinard—the Francis and Harriet Iglehart Professor of Law and co-director of the Clinical Law Program at the University of Maryland (UM) Francis King Carey School of Law—about his thoughts on record clearance, drawing on his experiences as a public defender, professor, and co-founder of UM’s Reentry Clinic.
At 15 years old, Dina Sarver was adjudicated delinquent and served six months in a Florida residential facility. When she was released at 16, she earned her GED and went on to pursue her AA, but found that some of her educational opportunities—particularly a degree in nursing—were limited because of her juvenile record.
In 2008, Margaret Stevenson (left) started the Record Clearance Project (RCP), which trains undergraduate students at San José State University to assist people with criminal records throughout the expungement process. Since its founding, RCP students have helped file more than 1,200 clearance petitions with a 99 percent success rate.
In March, Madeline Neighly of The Council of State Government (CSG) Justice Center and Pauline Quirion of Greater Boston Legal Services—who are both involved in the Clean Slate Clearinghouse Project—participated in a panel discussion about the employment levels of people with criminal records in Massachusetts.