|Rep. Patty Kim
103rd Legislative District
Kim sponsoring expungement reform legislation
HARRISBURG, March 13 – State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, is sponsoring two pieces of legislation with Reps. Jordan Harris and Ronald Waters, both D-Phila., designed to improve efficiency within Pennsylvania's criminal justice system by reforming current laws regarding expungement of criminal records.
"These bills are targeting non-violent offenders and those who had charges never fully processed through the system," Kim said. "I am joining with two of my colleagues with the intent to simplify the expungement process.
"There is a certain expectation that comes with expungement: for an individual to become a law-abiding citizen and not recommit a crime. If we really want to make an impact on lowering the crime rate, we need to have an open discussion about using the tools out there to do it, while at the same time not compromising public safety."
The first bill (H.B. 908) would allow for the expungement of an individual's criminal record after seven years has lapsed from the completion of their sentence and they meet certain criteria.
"There are too many cases in which someone makes a mistake when they're young and it wreaks havoc on their life for years to come," Kim said. "Mistakes someone has already paid for shouldn't hinder their ability to become a responsible adult and contributing member of our communities."
The legislation would require an individual seeking an expungement of their criminal record to appear before a judge to make the request.
"If we don't reform the current system, a completed sentence turns into an indefinite sentence," Kim said. "We are targeting non-violent offenders who are favorable to rehabilitation, who deserve the chance to find gainful employment and housing."
The second bill (H.B. 909) would require the automatic expungement of an individual's criminal record for non-convictions or in cases in which the charges have been dismissed.
Kim noted that under the bill, repositories across the state that are responsible for maintaining information relating to criminal records would automatically expunge non-convictions or dismissed charges after 18 months. If the repositories would fail to do so, they would be held liable for civil damages.
"The benefits of this bill are two-fold: helping ensure due process of the law for individuals who are charged with crimes but never fully had them processed through the system and easing some of the burden on our state's court system by saving time and money," Kim said. "It's time to end this cycle and allow those who deserve a clean slate to be able to get one."
The bills have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for review.