Accelerating Justice Reform and Criminal Record Clearance in Cities

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The Council of State Governments (CSG), with funding support from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, recently launched the Clean Slate Clearinghouse to support criminal record clearance efforts across the country.

On March 27 at 3:00 p.m. EST, the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families will host a webinar detailing how cities can use this valuable tool.

City leaders can use the Clearinghouse to review and compare state record clearance and mitigation laws, and educate business leaders and the public about the barriers many people face to a fresh start.  Equipped with state clearance laws and personal accounts of challenges facing those with criminal records, city leaders may also consider local law revisions to help reduce barriers between residents and a productive life.

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More than 70 million adults in the U.S. have criminal records, and more than one million youth acquire juvenile court records each year. Even a decades-old misdemeanor conviction can be a significant barrier to obtaining a job and achieving economic mobility. Businesses, workforce boards and chambers of commerce around the country have become vocal about the need to ensure a path to employment for people preparing to return to their communities after incarceration.

Record clearance, which is most often applied to individuals not found guilty of a crime, allows individuals to contribute to successful cities. The Clean Slate Clearinghouse has several functions:

  • Provide accurate information on record clearance and mitigation, and contact information for legal service providers in all 50 states and the territories
  • Support legal service providers currently engaged in record clearance work and provide new legal service providers with the tools and resources to develop record clearance programs
  • Give policymakers the information to compare state record clearance policies with other states and learn about best practices

NLC collaborated with CSG Justice Center and its other partners, including Community Legal Services, the National Juvenile Defender Center and the National Association of Counties to provide this crucial resource to city leaders.

TaraD_EDITEDAbout the author: Tara Dhanraj is a Senior Associate for Justice Reform at the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.