Harris’ ‘clean slate’ passes in the Senate, heads to governor’s desk

HARRISBURG, June 22 – A bill that would give people with low-level, nonviolent criminal records an opportunity to have their record sealed from public view is now awaiting Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature after passing in the Senate, said state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila.

The Senate voted 49-0 in favor of House Bill 1419, which Harris introduced with Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, last year.

“I’m pleased to see real and meaningful change happening in Pennsylvania,” Harris said. “This legislation will help fix many inefficiencies and inequities of the criminal justice system in our commonwealth, by clearing the darkness, shining a light and creating a path to do what is right for our people. There’s still work to do, but we’re moving in the right direction. I look forward to the governor’s signature in the upcoming weeks.”

Harris added Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long from the Philadelphia Eagles along with former Eagles player Torrey Smith were very supportive of H.B. 1419.

Harris was instrumental in passing Act 5 of 2016, which provides a process for sealing non-violent misdemeanors, but requires that former offenders file a sealing petition with a court. Under H.B. 1419, though, no action would be needed by former offenders to automatically seal their records.

The legislation proposes the following structure for sealing records:

  • Non-violent misdemeanor convictions – sealing would occur after a person has remained crime-free for 10 years.
  • non-conviction records – sealing would be done as a matter of course, given that the presumption of innocence is one of the bedrocks of the American criminal justice system.

The governor is expected to sign H.B. 1419 into law.