Sealed Records for Nonviolent Marijuana-Related Arrests Addressed in Bipartisan Bill
Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., are leading a bipartisan effort in the House to ensure that individuals arrested for nonviolent federal crimes stemming from marijuana possession get “a second shot at a better life.”
On Monday, the liberal Democrat and the conservative Republican re-introduced the Clean Slate Act. If passed, a bill that would automatically seal the federal criminal records of people arrested for minor federal cannabis offenses.
The legislation is modeled on a similar law enacted in Pennsylvania in 2018. That bill allows residents with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to have their records sealed if they have stayed on the straight and narrow for 10 years.
“If enacted, this legislation would make meaningful strides in filling the 7.1 million unfilled jobs in our country and improve the everyday lives of 100 million Americans who have past records,” Blunt Rochester said in a statement.
Reschenthaler, a member of the House Judiciary Committee who was once a district court judge, said criminal records stemming from low-level, nonviolent offenses, “can present a significant obstacle to employment, housing, and education.”
“If our goal is to reduce recidivism and improve the lives of millions of Americans, we cannot allow hardworking and reformed citizens to be defined by their worst mistakes in life,” he said.
If passed in its current form, Clean Slate Act would automatically seal an individual’s federal criminal record if they have been convicted of simple possession or any federal nonviolent offense involving marijuana; create a new procedure that allows individuals to petition the United States Courts to seal records for nonviolent offenses that are not automatically sealed; and would require, within 180 days, the automatic sealing of arrest records and other related records for individuals that have been acquitted, exonerated, or never had charges filed against them.
The bill would also authorize district courts to appoint a public defender to help indigent petitioners file and successfully seal their records, and protect employers from liability for any claim arising out of the misconduct of an employee if the misconduct relates to a sealed criminal record.
The House bill has already garnered diverse support outside the halls of Congress, and has been endorsed by groups ranging from the American Conservative Union Foundation and the Faith and Freedom Coalition to the liberal Center for American Progress.
Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs at FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group, said in a written statement that “the Clean Slate Act offers a streamlined path forward for certain individuals who have come into contact with the criminal justice system to have their records sealed so that they may gain employment, secure a place to live, or pursue educational opportunities.
“These are simple necessities of life that one mistake may impede if we do not provide reasonable chances for a clean slate,” Pye said.
Senator Bob Casey, D-Pa., is reportedly working on a Senate companion bill and is currently seeking a Republican co-sponsor.
In The News
WASHINGTON - A circuit court judge in South Carolina heard more than two hours of oral arguments Friday in a lawsuit challenging the state GOP executive committee's vote last month to forgo a 2020 Republican presidential primary. In the end, Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman indicated her... Read More
MIAMI — A self-described former pro golfer from South Florida who was indicted last week on campaign finance charges was arrested by federal authorities on Wednesday. David Correia, who worked with Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, is now in federal custody and will be arraigned Thursday... Read More
LANSING, Mich. — A state judge has granted a preliminary injunction to vape shop owners who opposed Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s flavored vaping ban, temporarily stopping the state from enforcing emergency rules banning the sale of the products. The facts of the case weigh “in favor... Read More
WASHINGTON - Do a pair of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court require the resentencing of Lee Boyd Malvo, the surviving assailant in the D.C. sniper case? That's the question the justices will consider when it convenes Wednesday to hear oral arguments in the case Mathena... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Former National Intelligence Director Dan Coats has rejoined the King & Spalding law firm and serves as a senior policy advisor on its D.C.-based national security team. “Our clients around the world benefit from the insight of our team’s many former top government officials,... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments about whether states can prosecute immigrants who use other people's Social Security numbers to get a job. The case not only has implications for the balance of power between the states and the federal government when... Read More