TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Last year, Oklahoma became the sixth state in the U.S. to enact the Clean Slate Law, which automatically seals the records of non-violent federal crimes for individuals who have maintained a clean record.
Now, there are lawmakers in Washington looking to make this clean slate act a federal policy.
“95% of all of those who go to jail no matter what level from county to state to federal will come home. The question is what happens when they come home?” said former GOP Congressman Doug Collins.
A criminal record can be a significant hindrance in obtaining a job, housing, or education due to a stigma or concern attached to the record.
The goal of this federal bill is to lift the stigma and offer people a second chance.
Representative Nicole Miller of Edmond, authored Oklahoma’s Clean Slate Law.
“We want to make sure that government itself is not creating barriers for people to move on with their lives and to get back to work," said Miller.
Last November, Governor Kevin Stitt signed the Clean Slate Act into law, automatically sealing the records for individuals with non-violent offenses only.
While the records are sealed, they are not erased.
“A sealed record is one that can still be accessed by law enforcement. And we think that's important for protecting public safety, but at the same time, it opens up opportunities for education and employment," said Jenna Bottler, president of Justice Action Network.
There are existing limitations in fields, such as law enforcement and healthcare, that will remain in effect. But Legislators said this policy could help patch the worker shortage.
“Employers are clamoring for this in Oklahoma," Bottler said.
Collins said there have been thousands upon thousands of jobs that weren't filled due to the shortage of job applicants.
The Clean Slate Act of 2023 was passed with bipartisan support earlier this week and could go into effect as soon as 2025 if signed by President Joe Biden.