Currently pending in both the Pennsylvania Senate and the House is a bill known as “Clean Slate”. For a state that has been so far behind the curve for so long, I am happy to see that Pennsylvania is rapidly moving forward with another measure to help those who have been convicted of criminal offenses clear their record.
If passed, this bill would allow sealing of the records on most nonviolent misdemeanor offenses and eliminate the eligibility restrictions for misdemeanors currently in place, including those graded as first degree misdemeanors. Most significantly, it would provide for automatic sealing of the records. There would be no need to file a petition with the Court for an order of limited access. Most non-violent misdemeanors would be sealed after ten crime-free years; summary offenses would be sealed after five years, and non-conviction cases would be sealed sixty days after disposition.
If appropriate, an individual could still choose to pursue the expungement of their criminal record. That would still remain the best course to take. The primary purpose of this pending legislation is to provide a remedy for thousands of individuals who are eligible for expungement or sealing but do not pursue either remedy. It rewards former offenders with a clean record if they stay crime-free for the required period of time.
This legislation has bipartisan support as well as the backing of the Coalition for Public Safety, a bipartisan coalition of national advocacy groups for criminal justice reform. Senate Bill 1197 was introduced by Senator Scott Wagner (R-York). In the other chamber, House Bill1984, the corresponding legislation, is sponsored by Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland).
Contact your local legislator now and urge them to vote for “Clean Slate”. We will all benefit from its passage.