DOVER, DE — On Tuesday April 4 at Legislative Hall, members of the Clean Slate Delaware campaign, including directly impacted community leaders, ACLU of Delaware, Delaware Center for Justice, and the national Clean Slate Initiative (CSI), convened with legislators to advocate for reforms that will increase expungement eligibility and accessibility.
Following legislation that was successfully passed in 2021, Delaware’s Clean Slate Act will take effect in August 2024, when mandatory expungement processes will be automated in order to make record clearance more accessible. In preparation for that upcoming legislative change, this lobby day event centered around two essential campaign priorities. The first of which is the successful implementation of the state’s automated record sealing law. Delaware is the fifth state to pass Clean Slate automatic record clearance legislation, but remains the only “Clean Slate” state that limits eligibility for record clearance due to outstanding fines and fees.
“Fines and fees related to a person’s record often go unpaid because people cannot access stable employment, housing, and opportunities for advancement due to their record,” says John Reynolds, ACLU of Delaware campaign manager for Clean Slate Delaware. “Eliminating this barrier to record clearance is a common-sense solution to increase financial stability for Delawareans and help ensure outstanding fines and fees are paid to the State.”
The second goal is ensuring all cases that do not include a conviction are eligible for automated expungement. A substantial number of people with records in Delaware have records for non-convictions only, which means the person was never convicted of the crime they were charged with. Yet a non-conviction record, just like a conviction record, remains publicly available and will appear on background checks unless it is expunged.
Over the course of the day 45 community members met with over 20 legislators to seek their support and commitment to take action on these priorities. The lobby day was well-received by legislators across both parties, energizing advocates and lawmakers to work together toward a successful Clean Slate implementation in 2024. Many of the directly impacted advocates voiced their own personal experiences with Delaware’s expungement process and the obstacles they have encountered as a result of their records. They were joined by Sheena Meade, CEO of the national CSI, who addressed the full Delaware Senate Chamber by invitation of Senator Darius Brown.
"The Clean Slate Initiative is incredibly proud of the work that's been done to advance Clean Slate in Delaware,” said Meade. “Redemption and forgiveness are at the heart of this work, and every step we take toward the successful implementation of Delaware's Clean Slate Act is a step toward realizing those shared values, and making second chances a reality for hundreds of thousands of Delawareans."
Next steps for the campaign include an upcoming expungement clinic and career fair, organized by the Delaware Center for Justice in collaboration with JP Morgan Chase, state agencies, and other partner organizations. The event will be held at the Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington on April 14 from 2 - 6 p.m.
To register, go to https://bit.ly/3Yy7vju.