SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — “The Clean Slate Initiative works to expand and automate the sealing of arrest and conviction records after people have completed their sentence and remained crime-free for a period of time,” according to the organization’s website.

The organization is a non-national, bipartisan non-profit that works across the country to build advocacy campaigns in hopes of passing clean-slate laws in states and in Congress.

According to the non-profit’s website, they have helped pass legislation to pave the way for over 7 million people who have conviction and non-conviction cases to be cleared.

March 8 was Clean Slate Advocacy day in Missouri, a day when advocates of Empower Missouri, including those with criminal records, spoke with lawmakers about the initiative in hopes of making it easier to have their records expunged.

According to the Clean Slate Initiative, over 1.9 million Missourians have a criminal record, but only 1% percent of people have their records expunged.

Holly Honig, the policy director with Empower Missouri, told me it’s about giving Missourians a second chance.

“It’s powerful,” Honig said. “If you care about people, it’s the right thing to do. If you care about economics, it’s the right thing to do. If you care about business, it’s the right thing to do.“

Holly said by talking with lawmakers they can see show how Clean Slate is about fairness, second chances and safety.

Studies show that people with a prior conviction who do not commit another crime within four to seven years are no more likely to commit a crime in the future than the general population.

Holly said those with low-level crimes have had limited educational opportunities and limited work opportunities.

“For folks who have their records expunged, we know they have a higher likelihood of making more money,” Honig said. “It’s definitely going to allow more workers to enter into positions; hopefully give employers a bigger applicant pool.“

Many businesses across the Ozarks are facing the hard reality of not having enough people to fill positions.

Holly told me that tens of thousands of qualified applicants can’t take these jobs because of their criminal records, including people who have records that date back decades.

According to Clean Slate, if people are able to have their records expunged, then they are 11% more likely to get a job and 22% more likely to higher wages within one year of expungement.