WASHINGTON – Today, Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) introduced the Clean Slate Act, bipartisan legislation that would give Americans with low-level and nonviolent criminal records a second chance to participate in society fully. The bill’s introduction coincides with National Reentry Week and “Second Chance” Month.

The Clean Slate Act would remove major barriers for many Americans in finding employment, securing housing, and accessing education by automatically sealing the federal records of individuals convicted of low-level, nonviolent drug offenses after they successfully complete their sentence. 

Blunt Rochester introduced the Clean Slate Act in the 115th, 116th, and 117th Congress. The legislation is one of the seven bills that make up Blunt Rochester’s comprehensive JOBS Agenda which she announced earlier this month. Additionally, Blunt Rochester currently serves as a co-chair of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force where she is working across the aisle on policies that support successful reentry and prevent recidivism.

“Since coming to Congress, the Clean Slate Act has been one of my top priorities. With 9 in 10 employers conducting background checks, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 universities doing the same, we know just how critical it is to give those who have served their time and paid their debt to society a clean slate and a second chance,” said Blunt Rochester, co-chair of the Bipartisan Second Chance Taskforce. “That’s why I’m so pleased to join Rep. Mace in introducing the Clean Slate Act this Congress. And as we continue to face workforce shortages impacting industries across the country and our economy, it’s never been more important to do all we can to create equitable economic opportunity for millions of Americans. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle and across Congress to pass this much-needed legislation and send it to President Biden’s desk.” 

“As Americans, we believe in second chances. We believe in redemption. And we believe in the power of forgiveness,” said Mace. The Clean Slate Act, a bill that would give Americans who have paid their debt to society a fair shot at rebuilding their lives, is needed. We must reform our criminal justice system to focus on rehabilitation and second chances, and this bill is an important step in the right direction…”

“The Clean Slate Act will unlock better opportunities for millions of Americans by automating the expungement and record sealing of low-level nonviolent offenses. This bill will help contribute over $80 billion to our economy and increase employment opportunities for the one in three people with a criminal record. And given that half of parents in America have a criminal record, this bill will also help support families. The Clean Slate Act can also help lower recidivism rates, which will enhance public safety. The R Street Institute is thrilled to endorse the Clean Slate Act again this Congress, and we applaud Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) for the introduction of this bill and their leadership on such an important issue.” – Jillian Snider, Policy Director of Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties at the R Street Institute; Anthony Lamorena, Senior Manager of Federal Affairs at the R Street Institute


More than one in three adults have some form of a criminal record, keeping them from participating in many facets of everyday life as nearly nine in ten employers, four in five landlords, and three in five colleges utilize background checks to screen applicants.

Currently, the federal government lacks any meaningful way to clear federal criminal records, regardless of whether they resulted in an actual conviction. The Clean Slate Act aims to address this issue by automatically sealing federal arrest records for individuals not convicted and records for individuals convicted of low-level, nonviolent drug offenses after successfully completing their sentence. It would also establish new procedures to allow individuals to petition to seal records for other nonviolent offenses that are not automatically sealed.

The Clean Slate Act is endorsed by the American Conservative Union, Brennan Center for Justice, Center for American Progress, Clean Slate Initiative, Code for America, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Faith and Freedom Coalition, JPMorgan Chase, Justice Action Network (JAN), LinkedIn, Responsible Business Initiative for Justice, Right on Crime, R Street, Third Way, and Business Roundtable.

Full text of the bill can be found here.

A one-pager on the bill can be found here