COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A new Colorado law, tabbed the Clean Slate Act, will automatically seal non-violent criminal records without needing an order from a judge.
Colorado Senator Dennis Hisey of El Paso County says Senate Bill 22-099 was a collaborative effort from the business community and the judicial community.
"We have a labor shortage, I think that's what brought the business community on board," Sen. Hisey said.
Hisey said the new law will open new doors for employment opportunities for people with a criminal record, which may have previously been a barrier for many job opportunities.
"Once someone has had their records sealed, within 12 months, they are making 25% more in wages," Sen. Hisey said. "That brings stability to the family, they have access to better housing."
The Clean Slate Act means that a petty offense will be automatically sealed four years after the charge, seven years for a misdemeanor offense, and ten years for a felony offense.
"We have over a million people in Colorado right now that are eligible for having their records sealed, but they have to petition the courts and that is a process that absolutely takes an attorney, so it's pretty expensive," Sen. Hisey said.
For Estevan Medina, the founder of Second Chance Through Faith Ministries, the law offers people he works with more than a second chance -- it frees them from having a record hang over their heads.
"Every time you try to go do something, you get shot down. So, instead of getting shot down, this is going to open that door and say, 'you know what, I have done this, but that's no longer who I am and I can move forward with my life,'" Medina said.
When it comes to employment opportunities, Medina said it is the key to finding an outlet for anyone who wants to turn their life around.
"When you are holding on to your past and you have to put that on the paper and you have to explain it and you might not get the job, what does that do? It discourages people," Medina said. "There's a freedom from that that you no longer have to hold on to. The possibilities are endless."
Each District Attorney in Colorado can submit an objection to sealing any person's records within 45 days after the record is sealed. Also, any subsequent offense will start the clock over for eligibility for sealing records.
Hisey told KRDO that petty offenses and misdemeanor offenses will likely be sealed first, followed by non-violent felonies. He said the hope is to have all eligible petty offenses and misdemeanors sealed by 2024.