WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D-DC) and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R-AZ) today co-led a bipartisan coalition of 22 attorneys general urging Congress to provide federal funds for state systems and technology upgrades needed to seal and expunge criminal justice records.
These funds could help some of the nearly 70 million Americans – one third of U.S. adults – clear or expunge records of arrest or conviction. Research shows that automatic record clearing could regain billions in lost economic activity for eligible people by clearing the way for secondary education, job opportunities, professional licensing, and stable housing. It would also help children and families as 30 million U.S. children—almost one in two kids—have at least one parent with a criminal record.
“An old criminal record shouldn’t be a life sentence, especially for those who have turned their lives around,” said AG Racine. “Unfortunately, far too many Americans remain cut off from job opportunities, education, and housing long after their arrests or convictions, preventing them from rebuilding their lives and supporting their families. We desperately need to modernize our justice systems. Implementing thoughtful ways to clear records would make the criminal justice system more efficient, more cost-effective, and most importantly, more just, helping expand opportunities for millions of Americans and their families.”
Nearly every state has laws in place to seal or clear certain arrest or conviction records for people who have demonstrated that they have been reformed. However, only a small fraction of eligible Americans are able to navigate the time-consuming, confusing, and expensive processes of getting their records cleared or sealed. The group of state and territorial attorneys general are asking for the investment necessary to streamline record-sealing processes and make the justice system more cost-effective and fairer.
A copy of the coalition’s letter to Congress is available here.
AG Racine co-led this letter with AG Brnovich, and they were joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Delaware, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.