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Rep. Blunt Rochester introduces bill to make it easier to seal some criminal records

Delaware Public Media

Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware) has legislation making it easier for people to get their records sealed.

Blunt Rochester says a misdemeanor drug conviction can make it harder for someone in Delaware to find work, an apartment or enter college.

The Clean Slate Act would automatically seal records involving non-violent federal misdemeanors for marijuana and simple possession of other drugs.

It also asks federal courts to set up a petition system where people can request to have their records sealed. Blunt Rochester said her bill could help millions of people across the country.

“It’s an opportunity to provide a clean slate for those individuals who you know maybe committed a victimless, nonviolent crime and give them a chance to be able to thrive,” she said.

Blunt Rochester said her legislation would only apply to nonviolent and nonsexual crimes and petitioners have to demonstrate they’ve stayed out of trouble for more than a year.

Blunt Rochester said she also sees additional benefits to the measure.

“Also it is a good government bill because one of the reasons why I think it has had this broad support is because it’s streamlining the process as well of individuals and not tying up the court system,” she said.

The bill is modeled after legislation recently passed in Pennsylvania. A person there can now petition to seal records if they haven’t had another conviction for 10 years and paid all court-ordered fees.

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