WASHINGTON (June 25, 2020) – The R Street Institute applauds the signing of the Second Chance Act into law today. The bill will expand eligibility for expungement and automate the clearance of non-conviction records like dismissals and acquittals.

“The passage of the Second Chance Act by Governor Cooper with the unanimous support of the state House and Senate is a major win for criminal justice reformers in North Carolina,” said Nila Bala, R Street associate director of Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties. “Given current events in our country, Second Chance policies are more important now than ever. George Floyd’s death has highlighted necessary reforms to the criminal justice system—which might start but do not end with policing reform. Reentry based efforts like the Second Chance Act can help us work towards racial equity, since individuals of color are particularly impacted by criminal records and the stigma they carry.”

The measure has strong bipartisan support, including endorsements from the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, the Chamber of Commerce, the American Conservative Union, Americans for Prosperity, the ACLU, the NAACP, the North Carolina Justice Center, Forward Justice and others. Additionally, polling this year in North Carolina revealed strong bipartisan approval—upwards of 80 percent—for automatic removal of non-conviction records, as well as automatic removal of nonviolent misdemeanor convictions after a waiting period.

This bill could serve as the first step toward implementing a full clean slate policy that would automate expungements.

The R Street Institute also supports Senator Mike Braun’s (R-Ind.) Reforming Qualified Immunity Act, Senator Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) JUSTICE Act (S.3985)  that was introduced last week, as well as the executive order on police reform signed by President Trump.

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