Legislative Snapshot: Second Chance Amendment Act of 2021 (DC Council)
Today CLPA is highlighting a bill introduced into the DC Council in February at the request of Mayor Muriel Bowser. The legislation had previously been submitted three years ago and even had a hearing in 2017 but advanced no further in the Council. B24-0063, the Second Chance Amendment Act of 2021, would, among other things, increase the number of eligible convictions on a resident’s criminal record that may be sealed.
Mayor Bowser’s letter to the Council notes that each year, over 40,000 people are arrested in Washington, DC, but of that number, about one-third of those individuals are never prosecuted. Disturbingly, a criminal record still exists for those never prosecuted, which will follow them for the rest of their lives, impacting their ability to obtain a job or secure housing. As such, roughly 10,000 Washingtonians seek legal assistance from nonprofit organizations to seal their criminal record every year.
The legislation allows a person convicted of either an “eligible misdemeanor or an eligible felony” to file a motion with the DC Superior Court to seal the publicly available records of the arrest, related court proceedings, and conviction. The Court can only do this if the five-year waiting period has elapsed since the completion of the sentence; there is no disqualifying arrest or conviction; the Court has granted no more than four prior motions from the person. The legislation states that disqualifying convictions would not prevent anyone from filing a motion to seal an arrest only if three years had passed since completing a misdemeanor sentence and five years had passed since completing a felony sentence.
The Second Chance Amendment Act of 2021 had a public hearing on April 8th, but no further action has been reported. If you want more information on the status of this bill or have questions, you can contact Chair Mendelson’s office at (202) 724-8032 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org