First-Of-Its-Kind ‘Clean Slate’ Bill Signed Into Law in Pennsylvania

Syrita Bowen News, Pennsylvania, Press

Legislation Would Permit Records of Individuals Convicted of Low-Level, Nonviolent Misdemeanors To Be Automatically Sealed After 10 Years Without A New Conviction

June 28, 2018

HARRISBURG, PA — The Justice Action Network, the largest bipartisan organization working to reform the justice system at the state and federal level, applauded Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf for signing the country’s first ‘Clean Slate’ law. ‘Clean Slate’ ensures automatic record sealing for individuals convicted of low-level, nonviolent misdemeanor offenses after 10 crime-free years. The ‘Clean Slate’ legislation received overwhelming support in both chambers, passing the House by a vote of 188-2 and the Senate, 49-0.

“When Governor Wolf signed this bill into law, he enacted a landmark achievement in criminal justice reform. People who make mistakes, but turn their lives around, deserve a fresh start. And automatic record sealing ensures a fresh start opportunity is available to all Pennsylvanians, regardless of their economic circumstances,” said Holly Harris, Executive Director of the Justice Action Network. “People with criminal records struggle to find jobs, improve their education, and secure adequate housing. And when faced with no better option, they often return to crime and again become entangled in our justice system. This clean slate law will break this cycle of failure for thousands of Pennsylvanians, broaden the workforce, save valuable taxpayer dollars, and make communities safer. We are grateful to the bipartisan cooperation that led to this historic achievement, and we urge state leaders across the country to follow Pennsylvania’s lead.”

“The Justice Action Network applauds leaders who worked across the aisle to make this bill possible, including Reps. Sheryl Delozier, House Judiciary Chairman Ron Marsico and Jordan Harris, Sen. Anthony Williams, former Sen. Scott Wagner and every lawmaker who championed this proposal. We are also grateful for the hard work of the state’s business community and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. Clean slate is a signature policy achievement of the Center for American Progress, and their advocacy, alongside groups like FreedomWorks and Community Legal Services, helped make this day possible.” said Harris.

Earlier this year, a poll commissioned by the Justice Action Network found that 81 percent of Pennsylvanians support ‘Clean Slate.’

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