Roebuck, state representatives advocate for second chances

PHILADELPHIA, May 8 – During a news conference today at Philadelphia City Hall, state Reps. James Roebuck, Morgan Cephas and Angel Cruz, all D-Phila., promoted legislation that would expunge the records of people who have been wrongfully convicted, arrested for mistaken identity, committed a nonviolent crime, or acquitted and are seeking expungement to get a second chance.

“Consciously, we’ve been sending people back to crime by systematically denying them a second chance,” said Roebuck. “My legislation (H.B. 2294) rectifies Pennsylvania’s unfair and inflexible expungement law for those who have been wrongfully convicted and subsequently exonerated by allowing their record to be expunged and requiring all fees associated with the expungement process to be waived by the court having jurisdiction over the matter.”

Cephas said she wants to make sure students are able to apply to post-secondary institutions without the fear of rejection based on a minor infraction committed in their youth. Her legislation (H.B. 2210) would amend the Public School Code to allow school districts the ability to expunge student suspension records for nonviolent offenses upon the completion of community service or a resource-based alternative and if the student exhibits good behavior over a period of time, as to be determined by the school district.

“We must consider the consequences that suspensions for extremely minor infractions have on our young people. They not only impact a student’s ability to thrive within and outside of the classroom, they can hurt a student’s prospects of getting into college,” Cephas said. “My legislation would offer young people a chance to clear their names and concentrate on getting the best quality of education possible.”  

Cruz has introduced legislation (H.B. 659) to require the expungement records of people who were arrested due to a case of mistaken identity.

“People who are wrongfully arrested not only face psychological and emotional strain, they must deal with having that crime remain on their record,” Cruz said. “My legislation would ensure that crime is removed from their record at no cost to them. This would allow them to move on with their lives and work to become upstanding citizens in their community.”

In addition, state Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, has introduced legislation (H.B. 512) that would provide for automatic expungement following acquittal in certain adult criminal cases as well as juvenile delinquency cases.

Roebuck, Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, said he and his colleagues are working closely with the House Judiciary Committee to advance the legislation and bring it up for a vote in Harrisburg soon. He praised the new policies implemented by Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner to expedite the expungement process for the citizens of Philadelphia.

Roebuck was also joined by the Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services, the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Innocence Project, Education Law Center, Philadelphia Bar Association, and Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity.