In July we reported on the extraordinary number of new laws enacted in the first half of 2019 aimed at restoring rights and status after arrest and conviction. A total of 97 separate pieces of legislation, some covering multiple topics, were enacted by 38 states and many broke new ground in their jurisdictions. Moreover, clear trends begun in 2018 accelerated in the first half of 2019, as state lawmakers continued to focus most of their attention on facilitating access to record-clearing. In addition, a significant number of new laws limited the authority of occupational licensing boards to disqualify a person based on criminal record. Another area of progress was restoring voting rights.
Those trends continued over the summer, with 17 new laws, including significant laws enacted to regulate occupational licensing and expand record relief, including but not limited to marijuana convictions. Several states showed a keen interest in exploring the possibility of automating record relief, although only one state actually enacted an automatic relief system by the end of the quarter (New York, for marijuana convictions). (California enacted a “clean slate” law shortly after the beginning of the fourth quarter.) At the end of the third quarter, Arkansas, Colorado and Florida were studying the feasibility of automating relief, North Carolina was considering automatic expunction of non-conviction records, and the Governor of New Jersey was attempting to persuade his legislature to adopt an automated system for convictions as well as non-convictions.)
By the end of the third quarter of 2019, 42 states had enacted an unprecedented total of 114 laws restoring rights and status, and more new laws on the horizon.
All of the laws described briefly below are more fully analyzed in the context of the state’s overall restoration scheme, in the detailed profiles of the Restoration of Rights Project.