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A New Legislative Proposal:

Because in Washington, a criminal record can mean a lifetime of blocked opportunity.

We’re working to change that. 

A criminal record should never hold anyone back—especially from the opportunity to earn a living, find housing, and access the education they need to get ahead. However, the system is set up to keep people who’ve been convicted of a crime and done their time from fully returning to their communities. A single criminal conviction can follow you for life, making it almost impossible to find a stable job or rent an apartment. By passing practical solutions like The Clean Slate Act, we can take a meaningful step towards fulfilling the promise of opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians.

1 in 3 Americans
have some type of criminal record.

In Washington, this translates into nearly 2.5 million of the state’s citizens. Many have only minor records, such as misdemeanors, summary offenses, or arrests without conviction. 

Even a minor criminal record can present lifetime barriers to opportunity, putting jobs, housing, education, and more out of reach. 

Enabling Washingtonians with a criminal records who have paid their debt to earn a clean slate would make it possible for them to get past these barriers, get to work, and provide for their families—while strengthening the economy and enhancing public safety.

What is a clean slate?

The Clean Slate Act would automatically clear the records of  qualifying criminal records for people who remain crime-free for a set period of time. Everyone who qualifies gets a clean slate—regardless of whether they can afford a lawyer and expensive court fees and without having to navigate a complex court process. 

People who have redeemed themselves are trapped by lifetime barriers. For instance, nearly 9 in 10 employers, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 colleges use criminal record background checks, putting employment, housing, and higher education out of reach for many.

A clean slate is automatic. Individuals do not need to file record-clearing petitions one by one. This reduces a burdensome workload for the courts and makes it easier for those trying to find employment, housing, and other basic needs for their future success.

Who benefits from a clean slate policy?

Washingtonians with certain criminal records will be able to move on with their lives, provide for their families, and become productive members of society. Families and children of people with criminal records will benefit as their incomes increase, their housing improves, and other obstacles to family economic security are eliminated. Washington’s criminal justice system will not be burdened with the transactional costs of many thousands of record-clearing petitions each year. Washington state will save money as a result of reduced incarceration, and the economy will benefit from not shutting qualified jobseekers out of the labor force, which costs the national economy $65 billion a year in lost gross domestic product, or GDP. Local Washington communities will be safer as a result of lower recidivism rates due to reduced barriers to successful reentry.

“By passing The Clean Slate Act, we can take a practical step towards fulfilling the promise of opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians.”

Get in involved:

Send an email to info@CivilSurvival.org

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