Selected Mentions of Paper Prisons in the News

300,000 people could have criminal records sealed under Oregon ‘Clean Slate’ bill (Mar. 4, 2023)

“According to the ACLU of Oregon, about 42% of Oregonians with criminal records were eligible to have their records expunged in 2021 – about 300,000 people. But less than 10% of those eligible did, said Scott Sharp, an attorney with the Metropolitan Public Defender office in Portland.

A forthcoming amendment to the bill would exclude all “person crimes” from the bill, meaning any crime that involved a victim, such as sex crimes or assault, said Sonja Good Stefani, an attorney with the Metropolitan Public Defender’s office in Portland, after the hearing.

“I think that will mitigate the opposition for the bill from any crime survivor groups and will hopefully satisfy the district attorneys,” said Paul Solomon, co-executive director of Sponsors, an organization in Lane County that connects formerly incarcerated people with housing, employment, counseling and mentoring, after the hearing.

Criminal records pose an “insurmountable barrier” to jobs and housing, particularly those “historically most pushed to the margins,” such as immigrants, refugees, rural Oregonians and people with disabilities, Sims said. Filing fees, fingerprinting and other requirements make the process of petitioning to expunge a record even harder, he said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t vote on the bill. Committee chair Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, is expected to gather stakeholders to review the amendment and then bring it back to the committee for a vote, Good Stefani said.”

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