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Massachusetts

A Criminal Record Should Not Mean A Lifetime of Missed Opportunities

Clean Slate legislation in Massachusetts will ensure that people who were formerly involved with the criminal legal system will get a fresh start by having their CORIs* automatically sealed when they are eligible.




*CORI = criminal offense record information


PA, UT, NJ, MI, CT, DE, VA, OK, CO, CA, MN & NY

have successfully adopted automatic record clearing!

Clean Slate Bills Before the Massachusetts Legislature

An Act Providing Easier & Greater Access to Record (CORI*) Sealing

S.979 / H.1598

By Sen. Friedman & Rep. Keefe

An Act to Remove Collateral Consequences & Protect the Presumption of Innocence

S.998 / H.1493

By Sen. Gomez & Rep. Fluker Oakley

Too many of our brothers and sisters are trapped in poverty and shut out of jobs and housing because

of their criminal records. This legislation will increase the efficiency of the criminal record sealing process that is currently cumbersome, slow, and underutilized because it is so complicated.


The current Massachusetts law requires people to mail or deliver petitions to the Commissioner of Probation who processes petitions manually, one-by-one. The present system has backlogs and it takes three to four months to get a reply after filing a sealing petition. Because of backlogs, people who already waited years for sealing are forced to face collateral consequences of their records for even longer.


Studies show record sealing increases access to jobs and wages, but gaps in knowledge about sealing hold countless eligible individuals back from sealing and getting jobs. [Starr & Prescott, 133 Harv. L. Rev. 2460, 2020].


This Clean Slate legislation would require the Commissioner of Probation to automatically seal criminal and juvenile records after the applicable waiting periods without the filing of a petition.

* CORI = Criminal Offense Record Information

“The CORI system is out of control and people are paying for being involved in the criminal justice system whether simply arrested or found guilty of a crime,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Any kind of record can now have a lifetime effect on accessing housing, jobs, and a chance to move forward with their life. This legislation addresses one aspect of this unfair system by ensuring that eligible residents who have earned their right to a clean record are not further stigmatized due to bureaucratic overreach and an inefficient process.”

"I am proud to join State Representative Fluker Oakley in filing S.998 and also co-sponsor S.979," said State Senator Adam Gomez. "The outcome of a CORI is a crucial factor in any employment or housing application. These two pieces of legislation will require that CORI reports include a statement that the presumption of innocence applies if a person was not convicted and increase the efficiency of the criminal sealing process, effectively optimizing a criminal justice system that has historically presented obstacles for average families across the state of Massachusetts."