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79 U. Cin. L. Rev. 155 (2010-2010)
Clean Slate: Expanding Expungements and Pardons for Non-Violent Federal Offenders

handle is hein.journals/ucinlr79 and id is 157 raw text is: CLEAN SLATE: EXPANDING EXPUNGEMENTS AND
Lahny R. Silva*
Over the past forty years, the United States Congress has passed
legislation expanding the federal criminal code intruding into an area
typically reserved to the states. The tough on crime rhetoric of the
1980s and 1990s brought with it the enactment of various legislative
initiatives: harsh mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent
federal offenders, truth in sentencing laws that restricted or
abolished   parole   and    early   release,  and   strict  liability
disqualifications from employment and federal benefits based solely
on the fact of conviction. The effect of this legislation was the
creation of a new criminal class: a federal prison population.
However, unlike the states the federal government does not have a
legal mechanism in place adequately reintegrating federal offenders
back into the American polity. This has contributed to soaring federal
incarceration rates, rising government costs for corrections, and a
historically high rate of criminal recidivism. This is a price tag the
United States can no longer afford to pay.
This Article argues that individuals who have served their sentences
and abided by the law for some period afterward should be given the
opportunity to rid their slates of their criminal histories.   Such
expungement of criminal convictions for individuals who demonstrate
that they will abide by the law are likely to reduce the costs of the
criminal justice system and improve the lives of ex-offenders. First,
this Article examines post-conviction penalties and contemporary
recidivism trends. Second, this Article investigates the law governing
federal pardons and judicial expungements, finding that the doctrines
and their applications lack consistency, making it difficult for non-
* J.D. University of Connecticut 2007; Hastie Fellow and LLM Candidate University of
Wisconsin. I would like to extend special thanks to my team who graciously reviewed multiple drafts of
this piece: Professor Peter Carstensen, Professor Kaaryn Gustafson, Clinical Professor Meredith Ross,
Assistant Professor Cecelia Klingele, and fellow Hastie Michael Oeser. I would also like to thank
Professor Howie Erlanger, Professor David Schwartz, Karen DeMeola, Jane Sampeur, and Professor
Thomas Mitchell. Thanks to my family for always believing in me. In addition, I owe the idea for this
piece to Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Professional Image, J. Silva, and C. Lee. Thank you for the


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