LOUISVILLE, KY. – In 2023, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky joined the Clean Slate Initiative and a coalition of state and local organizations to advocate for reforms that would automate Kentucky’s existing expungement process for those already eligible to apply for a fresh start under state law.

The current process can be long, confusing and expensive. In 2022, as a part of its core mission to help transition struggling Kentuckians into a life of self-sufficiency, Goodwill worked with the each of the non-profit legal aid groups to expunge nearly 4,000 records, and in 2023, that number rose to over 5,000 records.

“Kentucky needs the efforts of all her citizens to be the best, most economically healthy, Commonwealth we can be.” Said Amy Luttrell, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Kentucky. “Our workforce participation rate trails 6 of our 7 surrounding states at 57%, and we have seen firsthand through our efforts over the past 3 years the benefits that expungement can have. Having criminal offenses keeps many in poverty long after they have paid for those offenses; the opportunity to clear their record of eligible offenses offers them a chance to build new lives and contribute to their communities.”

Studies show approximately 10% of those individuals who are eligible will actually have their records expunged. To be eligible, individuals must have gone five years post-conviction without committing another offense and have satisfied all other conditions imposed upon them at sentencing.

“Today, I filed Senate Bill 218, the Clean Slate Act,” said Sen. Brandon Storm. “This legislation would give individuals a second chance by automating the expungement process for certain eligible offenses. Every Kentuckian deserves a second chance to rebuild their lives – especially those who have paid their debt to society – so they can reintegrate into society, their families and our workforce.”

There exists a need to balance public safety against any reforms when it comes to criminal justice policy, but the data supports Clean Slate. A 2019 University of Michigan Study found that those who obtain an expungement have extremely low rates of reoffending compared to the general population. These comparably low rates of recidivism are especially significant, given a recent RAND corporation report which shows populations involved (younger, male and economically disadvantaged) tend to have higher rates of offending to begin with. Simply put, these individuals who are citizens of the commonwealth and neighbors in our local communities have paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance, which does not place additional barriers in their path to success.

“While our commonwealth continues to attract good, high paying jobs, we still struggle to fill them, caused largely by our low workforce participation rate,” said Rep. Kevin Bratcher (R-Louisville). “HB 569 will speed up the process of putting those who have paid their debt to society back into the workforce so we can continue to grow Kentucky’s economy.”

About Goodwill Industries of Kentucky

Goodwill Industries of Kentucky is a 100-year-old nonprofit organization that operates in 103 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. The organization is committed to using resources from its 67 retail stores to help build pathways out of poverty for individuals who need a hand up in life. In 2023, Goodwill helped place 3,185 Kentuckians into jobs with its 1,330 employer partners and inside its own retail stores. Goodwill uses approximately 90 cents from every dollar generated in its retail stores to operate programs and services that help Kentucky’s hardest-to-serve job seekers build the life they desire.