Pa. House passes Clean Slate legislation

HARRISBURG, April 11 – The House today approved legislation, authored by state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., and state Rep. Sheryl Delozier, R-Cumberland, that would create the Pennsylvania Clean State Law.

Building upon Act 5 of 2016, H.B. 1419 would be the first bill of its kind anywhere in the United States. The bill would automatically seal low-level, non-violent misdemeanors, summary offenses and non-conviction records – with no action required by the person. Harris, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, called the passage of the legislation a major milestone in criminal justice reform for the nation. Act 5 of 2016 allows for sealing of records if a petition is filed by the accused.

“House Bill 1419 will change criminal justice reform in the United States as we know it,” Harris said. “People would no longer have to suffer for mistakes they made years ago. They would no longer be subjected to life as a second-class citizen and would now be able to find gainful employment and successfully pursue a post-secondary education, among many other things. Today, we are sending a clear message that everyone deserves a second chance, regardless of your race, age, ZIP code or level of education.”

“People who had a criminal conviction from decades past and have turned their lives around, without any other police involvement, have faced employment barriers due to their prior bad actions,” Delozier said. “By sealing from public view minor criminal offenses which are at least 10 years old, individuals can have a clean slate to move on with their lives. In addition, this discourages recidivism, as well as requires restitution and court costs be paid for eligibility.”

Harris and Delozier announced their plans to introduce their Clean Slate legislation nearly a year ago. If passed by the state Senate and signed by Gov. Tom Wolf, the bill would help countless working-age citizens in Pennsylvania overcome the barriers faced with a criminal record.