Congresswoman Victoria Spartz (R-IN) has introduced the Fresh Start Act alongside her colleagues Reps. David Trone (D-MD), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA).
Roughly one in three Americans live with records that prevent them from obtaining jobs, housing, and education – all driving factors in reducing recidivism. Millions of these individuals are eligible to have their records sealed or expunged under state law, but the process for doing so is often complex, arduous, and expensive.
The Fresh Start Act of 2021 allows states that have record-sealing or expungement laws in place to apply for a Federal grant to help improve their automated record-clearing infrastructure for eligible individuals, giving rehabilitated offenders a second chance to secure stable jobs, housing, and education.
“Millions of Americans have conviction records which could effectively punish them for life absent expungement.” Said Rep. Spartz. “I am proud to co-lead the Fresh Start Act to provide a second chance to the individuals who completed their sentences and improve the efficacy of our criminal justice systems.”
About the Fresh Start Act
The Fresh Start Act authorizes $50 million each year for the next five fiscal years for states to automate their criminal records programs. States can apply for up to $5 million, 10% of which will be for planning and research, with the remaining funds for implementation. The act prohibits states that delay record expungement or sealing due to fines or fees from receiving grant funding. The act requires states to report the number of records that have been sealed or expunged, broken down according to race, ethnicity, and gender.