By erasing or sealing criminal records, Clean Slate policies propose a second-chance opportunity of employment, housing, and education to thousands of Americans. In targeting the archaic and inaccessible processes of expunging and sealing records, Clean Slate ambitiously pursues economic and public safety policy goals. In 2021, Connecticut joined the states devoted to ascribing to these goals when it enacted a Clean Slate law that aids thousands of Connecticut residents who face major disadvantages as a result of misdemeanor or low-level felony records stemming from years-old convictions.
Supporters of Connecticut’s Clean Slate law theorize that without the barriers imposed by criminal records preventing people from pursuing their goals or providing for their families, previous offenders will obtain employment, return to school, or otherwise positively contribute to the economy and society following their record expungements.
However, supporters of Clean Slate policies have made extensive promises of Clean Slate’s expected success, effects, and costs without extensive data. Moreover, Connecticut’s Clean Slate law does not address many Americans’ understandable concerns about the felonies eligible for record expungements, including implications such as recidivism following expungements. Although some research suggests positive outcomes following the enactment of Connecticut’s Clean Slate law, the statute lacks sufficient methods for data collection, tracking, and retention needed to effectively predict its effects and properly balance public safety with the expected benefits of expunging records, leading to a multitude of unanswered questions and trepidations.
Only a few states have enacted Clean Slate laws, but there is boisterous support for the second-chance opportunity promised by Clean Slate policies. With time, research, and support from other states, Connecticut’s Clean Slate law could be both a catalyst in state criminal record reform and a huge leap forward in criminal justice reform for the entire nation.
"The Connecticut Clean Slate Law" (2023). Connecticut Law Review. 570.