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Clean Slate Expungement Bills Head to Carney

The House passed two bills Tuesday that would improve and expand the criminal record expungement process in Delaware, providing more Delawareans the opportunity to rebuild their lives through their second chance. Senate Bill 111 passed 36-5, with the 5 no votes coming from Republicans Tim Dukes, Rich Collins, Jesse Vanderwende, Charles Postles and Shannon Morris. Senate Bill 112 passed 38-3, with Republicans Collins, Morris and Postles voting no.

Sponsored in the House by Rep. Franklin Cooke and Rep. Sean Lynn, Senate Bills 111 and 112 would further efforts aimed at removing barriers to employment, housing and education that exist for those who have already paid their debts to society. The bills build on the 2019 Adult Expungement Reform Act, which significantly expanded Delaware’s criminal-record expungement process for Delawareans who have been arrested or convicted on low-level criminal charges.

Under the 2019 law, criminal records for certain offenses may be expunged by filing a petition with the State Bureau of Identification (SBI), while more complex cases are expunged at the discretion of the courts. Senate Bill 111, titled the Clean Slate Act, automates the expungement process by removing the petition requirement.

Once fully implemented, more than 290,000 adults would benefit immediately from the Clean Slate Act according to initial estimates. 

These benefits would extend to the state as well, with research from the Brennan Institute for Justice suggesting that communities may lose nearly $6,000 in reduced earnings and tax revenue per person each year when criminal records block individuals from employment.

Senate Bill 111 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Brown, Gay, S.McBride, Sturgeon, TownsendPassed Senate 21-0. Bonini, Brown, Ennis, Gay, Hansen, Hocker, Lawson, Lockman, Lopez, Mantzavinos, Paradee, Pettyjohn, Pinkney, Poore, Richardson, S.McBride, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, Walsh, Wilson
Cooke, Chukwuocha, Dorsey Walker, K.Johnson, Bentz, Bolden, Lambert, Lynn, MorrisonPassed House 36-5. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton  Briggs King D.Short Gray Hensley M.Smith Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman YearickDukes, Collins, Morris, Postles, Vanderwende
Current Status — Sent to Governor

SB 112 would expand eligibility for mandatory expungements for offenses such as marijuana possession, drug paraphernalia possession, underage possession or consumption of alcohol, and cases involving multiple violation convictions. Currently, an individual can only obtain an expungement for those convictions if they have no other criminal record. 

The bill also extends mandatory expungement eligibility to certain low-level felony convictions such as drug possession. With no prior or subsequent convictions, such offenses would be eligible for mandatory expungement after five years, while other specific non-violent felonies would be eligible for expungement after 10 years.

Additionally, SB 112 would make all offenses that are eligible for an adult expungement eligible for a juvenile expungement as well. 

Senate Bill 112 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Brown, Gay, Lockman, Lopez, S.McBride, Pinkey, Poore, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, WalshPassed Senate 21-0. Brown, Ennis, Gay, Hansen, Lockman, Mantzavinos, Paradee, Pinkney, Poore, S.McBride, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, Walsh, Bonini, Hocker, Lawson, Lopez, Pettyjohn, Richardson, WilsonNone
Lynn, Longhurst, Cooke, Chukwuocha, Dorsey-Walker, Bentz, K.Johnson, Morrison, WIlson-AntonPassed House 38-3. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton  Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende YearickCollins, Postles, Morris
Current Status — Passed Senate 21-0

“People who commit crimes, even low-level offenses, often face the judgement and stigma attached to having a criminal record, hindering their chances for success and making it difficult for them to move beyond past mistakes,” said Rep. Cooke. “Even for those who have already paid their debts to society, a criminal record can be a kind of life sentence. People deserve a second chance, and I’m committed to building a fairer criminal justice system that ensures people aren’t penalized beyond their sentences and can begin to rebuild their lives.”

“The movement to make Delaware’s criminal justice system more fair and equitable has taken many forms in recent years and changing the rules regarding expungements for adults and juveniles is a central component of that reform effort,” said Rep. Sean Lynn, lead House sponsor of SB 112 and a co-sponsor of SB 111. “If we are to claim that true justice is about restoration and rehabilitation, then we as a state must provide a path for people to achieve those goals after their convictions. Streamlining and broadening access to the expungement process does this.”

“A criminal record should not come with a life sentence to poverty. Clean Slate strengthens working families and grows the middle class by expanding the Adult Expungement Reform Act under SB 112 and the automation of the mandatory expungement process under SB 111,” said Sen. Darius Brown, the prime sponsor of both bills. “According to the State Bureau of Identification, SB 111 will change the lives of over 290,000 Delawareans by removing barriers to employment, education and housing and expanding economic opportunity and upward mobility. The Delaware Department of Finance estimates based upon a median adjusted gross income of $40,300 each individual would contribute on average $1,100 to state revenue annually.”

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