Give More Texans the Ability to Clear Their Records to Improve Their Stability and Self-Sufficiency

Policy Background

Approximately 9 million people in Texas have a criminal record that is not sealed.1 People with past involvement in the criminal punishment system face immense challenges finding stable housing, getting a job, and accessing other services due to their record. Orders of nondisclosure, which are available for people with certain offenses, can seal the record from all but some government agencies, law enforcement, and select employers, such as schools.

Proposed Solution

Texas leaders should enact “Clean Slate” legislation:

  • Automate criminal record nondisclosure for qualifying offenses. Given that the process for obtaining nondisclosure can be arduous and costly, this will save valuable time and court resources, as well as prevent eligible people from having to pay fees and attorney costs.
  • Extend eligibility for nondisclosure to certain misdemeanors and state jail felonies.
  • Remove the ability of 33 state agencies to view people’s records.

Texas leaders should also take a further step and pass “New Wings” legislation:

  • Expand eligibility for nondisclosure to certain felonies to help more people access jobs and housing.
  • Shorten the waiting periods for nondisclosure, depending on the offense.

Relevant Bills

Clean Slate

  • Bill Number: HB 399 [Collier]
    Bill Caption: Relating to automatic orders of nondisclosure of criminal history record information for certain misdemeanor defendants following successful completion of a period of deferred adjudication community supervision.

New Wings

  • Bill Number: HB 283 [Jarvis Johnson]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the eligibility of certain criminal defendants for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history record information.

Other Materials

1 TimeDone, "TimeDone Day 2022—Texas-at-a-Glance"; fact sheet available upon request.

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