Funding creates new, streamlined pathway for states to implement expungement laws
Washington, D.C. – Today, it was announced that the final budget agreement for Federal spending will make $95 million available to states to support the implementation of policies that expunge old criminal records. The funding, available through the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP), adds to Congressional actions earlier this year that made $200 million available over the next five years for NCHIP.
California, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Utah have passed and are implementing record expungement and sealing policies. Oklahoma and Colorado enacted automated expungement and sealing laws, just this year. Florida and Texas are considering similar reforms.
About 80 million Americans with criminal records face 40,000 employment, housing, and other obstacles that limit their success in accessing employment and housing – effectively barring them from achieving stability and contributing to the economy and job market.
But as more states enact legislation to reinvest in community safety and economic security by automatically expunging and sealing old criminal records, they face significant implementation barriers due to a lack of infrastructure.
“There is a clear and growing demand for federal support as states around the country continue to pass legislation to expunge or seal old criminal records in an effort to remove the lifetime barriers to stability that records present,” said Shakyra Diaz, Chief of Federal Advocacy at Alliance for Safety and Justice. “This much-needed funding will give states the ability to implement these laws, which will help families and support public safety.”
The National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) is a U.S. Justice Department program that provides direct awards and technical assistance to states and localities to improve the quality, timeliness, and immediate accessibility of criminal history records and related information. NCHIP assists states to improve their information infrastructure to connect information about criminal records, and the individuals who have them, for multiple purposes.
The Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) led the effort to create a federal pathway through NCHIP to support states in implementing laws to expunge and seal old records after a prescribed period of time, and to further clarify the program’s key purpose of improving infrastructure. This year, California, Utah, and Connecticut received NCHIP funding to do just that.
“We are so pleased that this year’s budget includes the funding we have been championing,” added Diaz. “We look forward to continuing our work with federal leaders so that states can have access to critical funding that elevates evidence-based safety solutions.”
Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a national advocacy organization that aims to replace ineffective criminal justice system policies with what works to keep people safe. We represent diverse crime survivors as well as people living with old records as key public safety stakeholders. ASJ brings our members together with state leaders and coalition partners to win reforms that stop cycles of crime, reduce costly incarceration, and make communities safer. We support a range of “shared safety” reforms, including crime prevention, community health, rehabilitation, economic mobility, and trauma recovery.