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The Clean Slate Act: What You Should Know

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The Clean Slate Act: What You Should Know

A bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives aims to allow people convicted of marijuana possession and other minor nonviolent offenses to have their records sealed — so the records aren't affecting their lives after the punishment is complete.

What Happened

H.R. 2348, also known as the Clean Slate Act of 2019, was introduced April 22 and referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. The bill is authored by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Delaware Democrat, and co-sponsored by Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, a Pennsylvania Republican.

The bill would automatically seal records of marijuana possession. People with other drug offenses and non-violent crime offenses could also petition U.S. courts to have their records sealed.

The automatic sealing should occur one year "after the covered individual fulfills each requirement of the sentence, except that such record shall not be sealed if the individual has been convicted of a subsequent criminal offense," according to the current text of the bill.

Why It's Important

Having a record can make it difficult for a previously convicted person to rent a home or find employment. Requiring the records for minor convictions such as marijuana possession to be sealed would be a major improvement in this regard.

The move comes as most U.S. states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana and amid a wave of support for criminal justice reform in both Congress and the White House.

What's Next

The bill is still in its early stages, but the fact that it enjoys bipartisan support suggests that it has a strong chance of being passed at least in the House during this legislative session.

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