USJAN Applauds PA Legislature For Approving Bill Removing Barriers to Reentry

jeff News, Pennsylvania, Uncategorized

January 28, 2016

Late yesterday, the Pennsylvania House finalized the reconciled SB 166 legislation that allows for the sealing of certain criminal records after a crime-free period for individuals who committed low-level, non-violent offenses. We applaud the bipartisan champions who supported removing this barrier to employment and housing for ex-offenders who turn their lives around. Holly Harris, the Executive Director or U.S. Justice Action Network, said, “This is a big win, not just for individuals who have made mistakes and turned their lives around, but also for society as a whole. We need to break down barriers for rehabilitated individuals who want to work and lead productive lives. When these people find jobs, they are much less likely to recommit a crime and return to prison, and that makes our communities safer. We are grateful for the leadership of our legislative champions on both sides of the aisle, and we will continue our work to bring meaningful criminal justice reform to Pennsylvania.”

Here’s what our champions in Pennsylvania had to say:

State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, the Senate sponsor of the bill, said of the accomplishment: “Today was many months in the making and would not have been possible without the commitment and persistence of my colleagues in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle. I am proud of Pennsylvania for approving this measure that helps put people back to work and gives them an opportunity to change their lives.”

State Rep. Jordan Harris, the House sponsor noted: “This was a bipartisan effort put together with the help of many individuals, including House and Senate Leadership, Chairmen Greenleaf, Marsico and Petrarca, Rep. Patty Kim, Sen. Shirley Kitchen, members of law enforcement and of course the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association,” Harris said. “Thanks to the diverse voices in this coalition, many Pennsylvanians can truly receive the second chance they deserve and will no longer be haunted by past mistakes and they look to make a meaningful contribution to our society.”

State Sen. Anthony Williams, Senate co-sponsor remarked: “I’ve worked with dozens of people through my expungement clinics who have done their time, changed their ways, and are desperately looking for the right tools and pathways to get their lives back on track. This legislation is a great step forward for Pennsylvania and I couldn’t be prouder of this accomplishment.”