Introduced by Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware) and Congressman Rod Blum (R-Iowa), along with 22 co-sponsors, the Clean Slate Act seeks to seal the records for marijuana charges one year after the sentence is completed.
The Clean Slate Act is important legislation, says Washington DC-based NORML, as it would ease the burden of those “unjustly suffering the collateral consequences resulting from cannabis prohibition. Having been arrested for mere marijuana possession does not make one a bad person, but rather a victim of a cruel public policy.”
Those that fall into that category tend to disproportionately be people of color or poor people, who can ill afford to be discriminated against when it comes to getting jobs, housing, access to higher education and loans, as well as many other areas wherein background checks prevail.
Indeed, a large majority of employers, landlords and colleges use background check systems to screen applicants, according to the Center for American Progress.
The Clean Slate Bill, HR 6669, would automatically seal federal records of individuals convicted of non-violent drug offenses. It also enables people to petition the court system to seal their records for other non-violent offenses as well.
By sealing records of offenders "who have paid their debt to society," the bill will help more people fill vacant jobs and create more opportunities for former offenders to successfully rejoin society, said a news release from Blum's office.
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester introduced the act as a way to help non-violent offenders re-enter the workforce and economy, as well as preventing them from committing more crimes, they said in a news release.
"The issue is cyclical - if we do not remove barriers and create opportunities for these individuals to re-enter society, we are setting them up to fail," Blum said.