Record Relief Tracker


In recent years, a political shift has taken root across the United States that is reimagining the path forward for those who have been directly impacted by the justice system. This movement, centered around record relief laws, seeks to offer individuals a genuine opportunity to define their own lives, acknowledging that people are more than the sum of a past mistake.

Record relief varies from sealing or expunging records to more nuanced methods, making some records less visible for purposes of employment or housing opportunities. It’s a crucial step for individuals to move forward without the weight of a past record of arrest holding them back.

The evolution of record relief laws has been marked by three distinct approaches: petition-based relief, automated relief, and Clean Slate initiatives.


Petition-Based Relief

Petition-based relief, the traditional form of record relief, requires individuals to navigate a complex legal process, often necessitating legal representation and direct engagement with the court system. This method, while effective for some, is limited in its reach and impact due to lack of awareness, access to counsel, and cost considerations.

In response to these challenges, states have begun to adopt more accessible approaches, such as automated relief and Clean Slate laws. 


Automated Relief

Automated relief typically focuses on specific charges or categories, such as minor drug offenses, offering a streamlined path to clearing one’s name. However, its scope is often limited, and eligibility criteria can exclude those with more complex backgrounds.


Clean Slate

Clean Slate laws represent the pinnacle of this evolution. Envisioned as a comprehensive solution, these laws aim to automatically expunge or seal a wide variety of charges, from misdemeanors to felonies, without requiring any action from the individual. This approach not only broadens the opportunity for relief but also removes barriers that have historically made the ability to thrive an arduous, often unattainable goal.

Our Record Relief Tracker shines a light on states championing these life-changing laws. Each highlighted area on the map signals our society’s shift towards the belief that a person’s past mistakes should not define their future.

This movement towards widespread record relief is not merely about concealing records; it’s about recognizing the inherent worth and potential of every individual, allowing them to rewrite their story and contribute fully to their communities.


*Data updated on a quarterly basis