Blunt-Rochester unveils bipartisan bill that would expunge non-violent crimes from criminal records
WILMINGTON, Del. – Delaware congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-AL) is making strides to improve America’s criminal justice system.
Her latest step? Unveiling a new bipartisan piece of legislation with Republican congressman Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14) that would expunge non violent crimes left on millions of Americans criminal records.
“This bill would actually seal those records and allow people to have that second chance but law enforcement would be able to see if homeland security would be able to see it,” said Blunt-Rochester.
Known as the Clean Slate Act, Blunt Rochester says she introduced the bill after realizing the many barriers those with a criminal record face. Including the struggle to get housing, an education, and even a job.
“To this day I still have that stain of a felony conviction on my record that prevents me from certain professional opportunities,” said one Delaware resident.
Advocates of the bill say those challenges play a major role in recidivism rates across the country , and right here in Delaware.
“Delaware has a higher recidivism rate 73% of people coming out of prison will re-offend within three years. They have paid for the crimes that they’ve committed yet we have done nothing to give them that helping hand,” said Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings.
But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, as lawmakers prepare to fight in Washington D.C. for the people who matter most.
“They are our cousins, they are our uncles they are our children they are our bosses they are our community,” said Blunt-Rochester.
And while there’s still more work to be done, officials say this is the first step in changing millions of lives.
“We know second chances work we know that this work will reduce recidivism and give people back their lives,” Jennings said.
Blunt-Rochester tells 47 ABC that this bill would not allow sex offenders or those convicted of a violent crime to seal their records. She adds that the next step is to head back to Washington to present this piece of legislation to the Judiciary Committee.