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Joint Statement on Supporting Clean Slate Initiatives April 2021: Fair & Just Prosecution | Boulder DA’s Office Press Release


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As leaders committed to justice and fairness, we work every day to earn the trust of our communities and repair the harms that have been done by an overly punitive criminal legal system. We believe that after someone has been held accountable for their actions, they and their families deserve the chance to move forward and live whole, healthy, and happy lives.

Far too often, this is not the reality for an overwhelming number of people in our society who have a criminal record. Despite the fact that people with a criminal record have already served their time, their past history can be a life sentence to limited opportunities.

Around one in three Americans has a criminal record, some of which are for arrests that never resulted in a conviction but can still cause long-lasting ramifications related to obtaining employment, housing, public assistance, and education. Those adverse consequences impact not just those with a criminal record, but also their children and loved ones who share in the burdens resulting from barriers to housing and services and reduced household incomes. And these barriers have only been exacerbated by the growing accessibility of criminal records online.

Criminal records can impact people for the entirety of their lives, far past the point where this information is needed for public safety purposes. Research has shown that people with criminal records are no more likely than the general population to commit a new crime if they have avoided contact with the criminal justice system for four to seven years.

People should have the opportunity to automatically have their records expunged or sealed. And this should occur promptly for misdemeanor records and after a reasonable period of time for felony records. In an effort to facilitate these commonsense practices, Clean Slate initiatives are increasing in number and utilize technology to take the burden of seeking expungement off of the individual and the courts and make these endeavors a presumptive feature of the system,
rather than an endeavor requiring time consuming and burdensome efforts.

As leaders charged with protecting the safety and well-being of all individuals in our communities, and during this Presidentially proclaimed Second Chances month, we call for the expansion of Clean Slate initiatives to provide people with the second chances that they have earned and that they and their loved ones deserve.

While many states have some expungement or record sealing options available, there are often significant obstacles – including lack of information and access to counsel, stringent eligibility criteria, fees, long wait times, and distrust of the criminal justice system – that make their use exceedingly rare. For example, in Michigan, only about six percent of people who are eligible for expungement are able to successfully complete the application process within five years of eligibility.

Public safety is inextricably tied to the community’s trust in the fairness and moral authority of our justice system. Given the disproportionate representation of people of color in the criminal justice system, these reforms demonstrate a necessary attempt to begin to repair the trust between our offices and the communities we serve.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also made this issue more urgent than ever, as millions of people are unemployed and struggling to access food and basic necessities. Clean Slate initiatives can contribute to a strong economic recovery by opening the doors of employment to many who would otherwise continue to be denied opportunities. Employment can be a significant factor in desistance or moving away from criminal activity, but many people struggle to obtain work due
to their prior convictions or arrests. In contrast, one year after individuals have their records cleared, research has shown that they are 11 percent more likely to be employed and earn 22 percent higher wages.

Expanding access to employment and housing would have a significant impact on many people’s lives and would promote public safety by facilitating reintegration into society. That is why we believe it is more important than ever that we make record sealing and expungement automatic, efficient, and applicable to a broader group of people.

As we work to promote safer and healthier communities, we affirm the importance of, and advocate for, expanded Clean Slate initiatives that acknowledge every person’s capacity for redemption and positive change. This starting point is in the best interests of our entire community.

Respectfully,

Amy Ashworth
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Prince William County, Virginia
Hector Balderas
Attorney General, New Mexico
Diana Becton
District Attorney, Contra Costa County, California
Wesley Bell
Prosecuting Attorney, St. Louis County, Missouri
Buta Biberaj
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Loudoun County, Virginia
Chesa Boudin
District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco, California
RaShall M. Brackney, Ph.D.
Police Chief, Charlottesville Police Department, Virginia
Aisha Braveboy
State’s Attorney, Prince George’s County, Maryland
John Choi
County Attorney, Ramsey County, Minnesota
Jerry L. Clayton
Sheriff, Washtenaw County, Michigan
Dave Clegg
District Attorney, Ulster County, New York
Shameca Collins
District Attorney, Sixth Judicial District, Mississippi
Laura Conover
County Attorney, Pima County, Arizona
Scott Colom
District Attorney, 16th Judicial District, Missouri
John Creuzot
District Attorney, Dallas County, Texas
Satana Deberry
District Attorney, Durham County, North Carolina
Parisa Dehghani-Tafti
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, Virginia
Steve Descano
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Fairfax County, Virginia
Thomas J. Donovan, Jr.
Attorney General, Vermont
Michael Dougherty
District Attorney, 20th Judicial District, Colorado
Mark Dupree
District Attorney, Wyandotte County, Kansas
Matthew Ellis
District Attorney, Wasco County, Oregon
Keith Ellison
Attorney General, Minnesota
Kimberly M. Foxx
State’s Attorney, Cook County, Illinois
Kimberly Gardner
Circuit Attorney, City of St. Louis, Missouri
José Garza
District Attorney, Travis County, Texas
George Gascón
District Attorney, Los Angeles County, California
Former District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco, California
Former Chief, San Francisco Police Department, California
Former Chief, Mesa Police Department, Arizona
Sarah F. George
State’s Attorney, Chittenden County, Vermont
Sim Gill
District Attorney, Salt Lake County, Utah
Diane Goldstein
Executive Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Lieutenant (Ret.), Redondo Beach Police Department, California
Joe Gonzales
District Attorney, Bexar County, Texas
Deborah Gonzalez
District Attorney, Western Judicial Circuit, Georgia
Eric Gonzalez
District Attorney, Kings County, New York
Mark Gonzalez
District Attorney, Nueces County, Texas
Christian Gossett
District Attorney, Winnebago County, Wisconsin
Andrea Harrington
District Attorney, Berkshire County, Massachusetts
Jim Hingeley
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Albemarle County, Virginia
John Hummel
District Attorney, Deschutes County, Oregon
Natasha Irving
District Attorney, Prosecutorial District 6, Maine
Michael Jackson
District Attorney, Dallas County, Alabama
Kathleen Jennings
Attorney General, Delaware
Shalena Cook Jones
District Attorney, Chatham County, Georgia
Justin F. Kollar
Prosecuting Attorney, Kauai County, Hawaii
Lawrence S. Krasner
District Attorney, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Beth McCann
District Attorney, 2nd Judicial District, Colorado
Karen McDonald
Prosecuting Attorney, Oakland County, Michigan
Gary McFadden
Sheriff, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Ryan Mears
Prosecuting Attorney, Marion County, Indiana
Spencer Merriweather
District Attorney, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Brian Middleton
District Attorney, Fort Bend County, Texas
Stephanie Morales
Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Portsmouth, Virginia
Marilyn Mosby
State’s Attorney, Baltimore City, Maryland
Jody Owens
District Attorney, Hinds County, Mississippi
Alonzo Payne
District Attorney, 12th Judicial District, Colorado
Joseph Platania
Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Charlottesville, Virginia
Bryan Porter
Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Alexandria, Virginia
Abdul Pridgen
Chief, Seaside Police Department, California
Harold F. Pryor
State Attorney, 17th Judicial Circuit, Florida
Karl A. Racine
Attorney General, District of Columbia
Mimi Rocah
District Attorney, Westchester County, New York
Rachael Rollins
District Attorney, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Jeff Rosen
District Attorney, Santa Clara County, California
Ellen Rosenblum
Attorney General, Oregon
Marian T. Ryan
District Attorney, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Dan Satterberg
Prosecuting Attorney, King County, Washington
Eli Savit
Prosecuting Attorney, Washtenaw County, Michigan
Mike Schmidt
District Attorney, Multnomah County, Oregon
Carol A. Siemon
Prosecuting Attorney, Ingham County, Michigan
David Soares
District Attorney, Albany County, New York
David E. Sullivan
District Attorney, Northwestern District, Massachusetts
Shannon Taylor
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Henrico County, Virginia
Raúl Torrez
District Attorney, Bernalillo County, New Mexico
Matthew Van Houten
District Attorney, Tompkins County, New York
Cyrus R. Vance
District Attorney, New York County, New York
Andrew Warren
State Attorney, 13th Judicial Circuit, Florida
Lynneice Washington
District Attorney, Jefferson County, Bessemer District, Alabama
Todd Williams
District Attorney, Buncombe County, North Carolina
Jared Williams
District Attorney, Augusta, Georgia
Monique Worrell
State Attorney, 9th Judicial Circuit, Florida

Law Enforcement Organizations

Law Enforcement Action Partnership
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives

**Additional elected prosecutors interested in joining the statement should contact FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky at mkrinsky@fairandjustprosecution.org.

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