Clean Slate Delaware

SIGN UP FOR Clean Slate UPDATES

About Clean Slate Delaware

America’s decades-old culture of tough-on-crime policies has created an unprecedented crisis in our legal system: A staggering number of Americans find themselves locked in a paper prison, with no end to their sentence, even after they’ve served their time. Clean Slate Delaware aims to expand access to second chances through legislation, advocacy, and public education efforts that will expand expungement eligibility and help more eligible records access expungement.

Up to 400,000 people who have a record in Delaware live with limited access to jobs, housing, education, starting a business, or participating fully in social and civic community life. 290,000 of those people are eligible for mandatory expungement, but eligibility for expungement doesn't always mean access to expungement.

Following the passage of Clean Slate legislation in 2021, the Clean Slate Delaware campaign works to expand access to second chances by ensuring that people living with a Delaware record are aware of eligibility requirements, updated laws, and how they can start the process of clearing eligible records.


Upcoming expungement clinics

ODS Expungement Clinic & Job Fair

William "Hicks" Anderson Community Center
501 N Madison St
Wilmington, DE 19801

Event info & pre-registration


Mandatory Expungement Eligibility Guide

Thanks to reforms in recent years, including the passage of SB 37 in 2019 and SB 112 in 2021, the number of records that are eligible for mandatory expungement has grown significantly. Learn more about what cases are eligible for mandatory expungement and how to start the process.

View the Guide


Expungement stories

Angela's story

Angela’s teen years were clouded by difficulties that landed her a record. For her, access to record clearance would mean having a Clean Slate and a second chance at jobs, education, housing, credit, and more.

Receiving an expungement would give Angela a real second chance at participating authentically in her community. Angela’s story is one of many.

Hear Angela's story

Gina's story

More than a decade after Gina reentered society, her record still holds her back from finding jobs, housing, and social services opportunities.

Gina has long since moved past old chapters in her life, but Delaware hasn’t caught up yet. A #CleanSlate and a second chance would give her the freedom she needs to fully live her life and participate in her community. Expanding access to expungement will grant second chances to hundreds of thousands of Delawareans like Gina.

Hear Gina's story


Get involved

Follow Clean Slate DE on Twitter

SIGN UP FOR Clean Slate UPDATES


Our wins

In 2018, the General Assembly passed a major juvenile expungement bill, giving Delaware Family Court the option to immediately expunge a felony arrest record if a child is found not delinquent or the charge is dismissed, eliminating the need for a separate application and proceeding.

In 2019, the General Assembly passed another important expungement bill expanding access to second chances for adult Delawareans by creating adult expungement opportunities for most misdemeanors and felonies after a 3-7 year waiting period (depending on the underlying crime) without another conviction.

We expanded access to more second chances in 2021 with the passage of two Clean Slate bills. SB 111 will automate the mandatory expungement process starting in 2024, in order to make record clearance more accessible for people seeking a second chance. SB 112 expanded the list of cases that are eligible for mandatory expungement.


Legislation

HB 244: Fines & Fees

When Delawareans face court-ordered fines and fees, many are unable to pay the amount they’ve been assigned. This can begin a “debt spiral,” leading from fines and fees to incarceration to more court-ordered debts. That's why our friends at the Delaware Campaign to End Debtors' Prison are fighting to pass HB 244.

HB 244 would eliminate a number of fines and fees, and would also prohibit the Division of Motor Vehicles from suspending driver’s licenses as a penalty for nonpayment of a fine, fee, costs, assessment, or restitution.

LEARN MORE ABOUT HB 244


HB 447

House Bill 447 requires that cases or charges that are more than 7 years old be treated as "resolved in favor of" a child or adult if there is no disposition available for the case and no outstanding warrants. This clarification will:

  • Prevent errors in record-keeping in the criminal justice system from stopping an otherwise qualified petitioner from obtaining an expungement that may otherwise be available; 
  • Require old cases for which no outcome is listed to be removed from a person's record if they are more than 7 years old; and
  • Allow an individual with multiple violations or misdemeanors in different cases that would be eligible for a mandatory expungement if they had occurred in a single case, and the individual has no other convictions on their record, to apply directly for a discretionary expungement after 5 years have passed from the most recent conviction.
    • The court would then consider the application under its usual “interest of justice” rubric in determining whether to grant the expungement.
    • This saves applications to the pardon board for multiple minor misdemeanors and increases parity between applicants with similar records.

Learn more about HB 447


 

Reports and resources

Paper Prisons Initiative Report on Second Chance Gaps in Delaware

The Second Chance Gap Initiative of Santa Clara University conducts research to draw attention to the tens of millions of Americans who have completed their time but remain stuck in “paper prisons.” They are burdened by criminal records eligible to be removed, but— due to administrative, debt, and other hurdles—remain on their records, often barring employment, housing, voting, and reintegration opportunities. This report highlights those second change gaps in Delaware.

Read the Report

University of Michigan Law School Study on Expungements

The consequences of a run-in with the law can persist for decades after the formal sentence has been served. People with records face major barriers to employment, housing and education, effectively condemning them to second-class citizenship. This study by J.J. Prescott and Sonja B. Starr, professors at the University of Michigan Law School, shows the benefits of giving people a clean slate.

READ THE study

A Criminal Record Shouldn't Be a Life Sentence to Poverty

The Center for American Progress, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and the National Employment Law Project finds that because 1 in 3 American adults has a criminal record, barriers to housing, employment, education, and other barriers to opportunity have contributed greatly to poverty and racial inequality.

Read the report