U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has introduced the Clean Start Act. As the name implies, it will give a second chance to recovering addicts who have a criminal record for nonviolent federal offenses. This legislation will give them a chance to build themselves up in their new lifestyle without being held back by their past record.
Goal to Stop Cycle of Addiction
Senator Manchin observed recently that a number of employers are reluctant to hire candidates who have a criminal record, no matter how long ago the original offense may have taken place. This barrier to being able to obtain gainful employment contributes to a cycle of addiction and return to imprisonment that is difficult to stop. The proposed legislation will allow recovering addicts to have a chance to wipe the slate clean and become part of the community again.
“I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of opioid abuse on individuals, families, and communities in my state and around the country. As a direct result of their addiction, many otherwise law-abiding persons have committed nonviolent crimes that result in felony or misdemeanor convictions. Since many employers are unlikely to even consider a job applicant with a criminal record, the impact of a past conviction weighs upon these former addicts long after they have served their time. This all-too-common barrier to employment contributes to the continuing cycle of addiction and incarceration that has been so hard to break. This legislation will give people who wish to reform their lives a clean start and a chance to rejoin their communities,” commented Senator Manchin.
How Clean Start Act Will Work
Under the Clean Start Act, people with either a federal misdemeanor or a felony conviction for a nonviolent crime, which was committed as the result of drug addiction, may be able to have their record sealed. The person will be able to petition a federal court to make a request to seal the record after meeting two conditions:
• Completing a 12-month substance abuse program or a recovery support program. It must be licensed or certified by either a national or State accreditation body.
• Serves as a drug addiction recovery mentor for a six-month period. If this is not possible (and will only apply in a limited number of cases), the person will be required to provide six months of volunteer service instead.
Under the bill, a person will only be able to make one petition to the court to have their record sealed. The court will consider all relevant information in making a decision, including submissions from the original prosecutor. Only those convicted of nonviolent crimes would be eligible to participate. Anyone convicted of a crime against children or sex offenders are specifically excluded.
Given the scope of the substance abuse problem in America, advocates like this for people in recovery to be able to move on with their lives without a scarlet letter are sorely needed. Sometimes, it only takes having a loved one go through recovery for someone to step up and be a champion.