What is Clean Slate work and why is it important?
Involvement in the criminal justice system has negative side effects beyond a court case and possible conviction. Arrests and convictions trigger an additional set of punishments known as collateral consequences. These consequences operate outside of the criminal justice context even after an individual has served his or her jail or prison sentence, paid fees and fines, and completed parole or probation. Unresolved legal matters impede an individual’s ability to get a driver’s and/or employment license, or access to public benefits. Other barriers include exclusion from housing opportunities, extreme difficulty finding a job, and in some cases lack of access to higher education – all due to a criminal record. To combat this problem, SCSJ’s Clean Slate Program supplements the important services provided by our partner organizations with direct legal services and advocacy in the following areas: expungment and Certificates of Relief (COR), employment or occupational licensing hearings and driver’s license restoration. Learn more in our Clean Slate Clinic Handout.
Results from March 22, 2014 Clean Slate Clinic in Durham
As of May 1, 2014, these are the reported outcomes from the March Clean Slate Clinic:
- Number of people eligible for a non-violent expungement: 3
- Number of people eligible for driver’s license restoration: 5
- Number of people possibly eligible, depending on pending charges/cases: 14
- Number of people eligible for a Certificate of Relief AND dismissal expungement: 23
- Number of people eligible for a Certificate of Relief: 42
- Number of people eligible for dismissal expungement: 83
- Number of applicants: 371
In sum, 170 people are eligible for some form of Clean Slate Services – an incredible 46% eligibility rate.
A recent study by Stanford University estimated the economic benefit of criminal record expungement, specifically as it relates to increased tax revenue and reduced public assistance payments. The article states that “with numbers showing that the benefits of clearing eligible records outweigh costs over time, policymakers may be more inclined to take actions to increase the number of records cleared”. Further, “this process (of expungement) improves the lives of deserving individuals, and it benefits society in the process“. The students estimated that the benefits of expungement outweigh costs by about $5,800 per person in one year.
SCSJ hopes to study the short-term and long-term financial impact of the Clean Slate Clinic services for Durham County. You can support this work and all of our efforts to reform the criminal justice system by making a tax-deductible donation to SCSJ today.