April 16, 2021
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a bipartisan coalition of 22 attorneys general urging Congress to provide federal funds for state systems and technology upgrades needed to seal and expunge criminal justice records.
These funds could help some of the nearly 70 million Americans – one third of U.S. adults – clear or expunge records of arrest or conviction. Research shows that automatic record clearing could regain billions in lost economic activity for eligible people by clearing the way for secondary education, job opportunities, professional licensing, and stable housing. It would also help children and families as 30 million U.S. children—almost half of all children living in the US—have at least one parent with a criminal record.
"Millions of Americans are cut off from employment opportunities, education, and stable housing as a result of their prior convictions,” Nessel said. “The current expungement system is time-consuming and confusing. We must modernize expungement technology and give individuals the second chance they deserve.”
Nearly every state has laws in place to seal or clear certain arrest or conviction records for people who have demonstrated that they have been reformed. However, only a small fraction of eligible Americans are able to navigate the time-consuming, confusing, and expensive processes of getting their records cleared or sealed. The group of state and territorial attorneys general are asking for the investment necessary to streamline record-sealing processes and make the justice system more cost-effective and fairer.
Joining Attorney General Nessel in sending this letter are the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.