Clean Slate Campaign aims to give certain Delawareans with criminal records a fresh start
DELAWARE – Wednesday, Delaware kicked off the Clean Slate Campaign. The initiative would allow for the clearing of certain criminal records after a period of time. U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester says she’s excited to see Delaware take a step in this direction, so that everyone can strengthen their communities. “Those that have served their time and paid their debt to society deserve a fair shot at a second chance and a clean slate,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester.
The ACLU of Delaware says more than 400,000 Delawareans are burdened with previous arrests or criminal records. Executive Director of the ACLU of Delaware Mike Brickner says those records can make it difficult to find opportunities for employment, housing, and education. “What we’re looking at then is really a justice system where that person has to wear that scarlet letter of a criminal conviction for the rest of their lives,” said Brickner.
One of those Delawareans is Corie Priest. After being incarcerated for a non-violent drug offense nearly a decade ago, Priest says his options for moving on and up were extremely limited. “I knew where I wanted to go. I didn’t know how I was going to get there. I didn’t know who I had to explain this felony conviction to,” said Priest.
Priest is now the community engagement specialist for Delaware General Attorney’s office. He was able to get his record expunged in April of last year. But he says he wishes he had been able to take part in a program like Clean Slate. Priest says he hopes it will pave the way for other Delawareans to have an easier time getting a fresh start. “It’s for the people who are behind me. It’s for the folks who are still sitting in our Department of Corrections facilities. It’s for the people who are sitting at home and can’t get a job or can’t go to school,” said Priest.
No legislation has been filed for the 2021 legislative session to get the Clean Slate Program officially on the books.. However, Delaware Senate leaders say they are planning to introduce the legislation sometime this year. Plus, Rep. Blunt Rochester says she’s also working to get this program adopted on the federal level.