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08/18/2017 08:00 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 22, 2017 09:04 AM
From: Senator Scott Wagner and Sen. Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Clean Slate
 
We will be reintroducing Clean Slate legislation, similar to Senate Bill 1197 of the 2015-2016 legislative session, to provide those with low-level, nonviolent criminal records a mechanism to have their record sealed from public view.

This legislation builds upon Act 5 of 2016, which passed the Senate 49-0 and provided for a process of sealing low level, non-violent misdemeanors. Under Act 5 individuals must petition the court, where our legislation will implement automatic sealing of records with no action required by the individual.

Nearly three million Pennsylvanians – 37.5% or more than one-third – of the Commonwealth’s working-age citizens, are estimated to have criminal records. Many have only minor offenses, such as misdemeanors, while others simply have arrests without conviction.

Unfortunately, having even a minor criminal record carries lifelong barriers that can block successful re-entry and participation in society. What’s more, nearly half of Pennsylvania children have a parent with a record, and the associated barriers to employment, housing, and more can severely limit a child’s life chances.

Our legislation proposes the following structure for sealing records:
  • Nonviolent Misdemeanor Convictions – Sealing would occur after an individual 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.
This legislation builds on last year’s proposal and reflects feedback from a range of stakeholders to streamline and improve upon the previous bill. Notably, language has been added to provide liability immunity to employers as well as exemptions for certain industries where our proposed legislation would conflict with federal requirements. At the request of advocates for juveniles who prefer to seek expungement, juveniles are not included in our legislation.

This proposal enjoys bipartisan support from groups across Pennsylvania and the nation, including Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, U.S. Justice Action Network, and Center for American Progress. As with SB 1197, we expect this legislation will also garner bipartisan support in the General Assembly.

Previous co-sponsors of SB 1197 were:
AUMENT, BARTOLOTTA, BLAKE, BREWSTER, COSTA, FONTANA, GREENLEAF, HAYWOOD, HUGHES, KITCHEN, LEACH, McGARRIGLE, SCHWANK, STEFANO, TARTAGLIONE, TEPLITZ, VOGEL, WARD, WHITE, WILEY, WOZNIAK, and YUDICHAK.

If you have any questions regarding this proposal, please contact Erin K. Marsicano, 717-787-3817, emarsicano@pasen.gov or Kyle Miller, 717-787-5970, kmiller@pasenate.com.


Introduced as SB529