McDuffie Introduces Bill to Seal the Records of Individuals with Nonviolent Drug Offenses

Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie Introduces Bill to Seal the Records of Individuals with Nonviolent Drug Offenses

The proposed legislation will expand the ability for ex-offenders to have their records sealed after a period of 3 years for qualifying misdemeanors convictions and 7 years for qualifying felony convictions

Washington, D.C. — Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie, Chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, introduced the District of Columbia Clean Slate Amendment Act of 2019 [B23-0401]. The proposed legislation will:

  • Amend the definition of the “completion of sentence” to clarify that failure to pay fines and fees does not count towards completion of a sentence;
  • Amend the definition of “eligible felonies” to include certain nonviolent offenses;
  • Require automatic sealing of non-convictions, eligible misdemeanors, and eligible felonies after a certain period of time; and
  • Shift the burden of proof for record sealing from the individual to the prosecution.

Providing residents with a clean slate increases the opportunity for our residents to successfully reengage and decreases the likelihood of recidivism.

With Introduction, Councilmember McDuffie stated:

“Approximately 77 million Americans, or 1 in every 3 adults, have a criminal record. A criminal record—which can be an arrest record, criminal charges, or a conviction—creates barriers to jobs, occupational licensing, housing, and higher education opportunities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, African Americans, and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the U.S. population however, 56% of them are incarcerated or going through some form of correctional supervision.

Criminal records contribute to generations of poverty and increase the likelihood of recidivism. This is because on the other end, when our brothers and sisters return home, they are often not met with the opportunities they need to reengage.

This legislation will help people with criminal records get their lives back on track and reduce the stigma they face when looking for employment and housing. It says to our larger community, to the residents of the District, that we believe in your capacity to change and we welcome you home.”