WASHINGTON (March 16, 2020)—When legislators return on April 28, they will be in the so-called “short” session held in even-numbered years. During this session, legislators are poised to consider the Second Chance Act. This bill would expand eligibility for expunctions (expungements) and automate the clearance process for non-conviction records. This is the first step in giving many justice-involved North Carolinians a second chance.

In a new policy short, R Street Associate Director of Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties, Nila Bala, and Krystin Roehl, R Street’s criminal justice & civil liberties intern, discuss the barriers to employment and housing that 1.6 million North Carolinians face because they have a criminal record. “Expunging” or clearing these records from public view can help these individuals reintegrate with society. It also supports public safety and stimulates the economy.

The authors find that there is a huge gap between those eligible for an expungement versus those who actually apply. Automating the process and taking the onus off individuals can help to address this gap and may offer numerous other and more far-reaching benefits.

Ultimately, Bala and Roehl conclude that “more North Carolinians can be served through automating the clearance of certain conviction records, as well as by expanding eligibility.”