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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: March 3, 2015 02:06 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Collateral consequences of conviction
According to the American Bar Association’s National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction, there are 859 potential consequences that a person faces when he or she is convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania. These consequences include barriers to employment, disqualifications from professional licensure, disqualifications from government contracts, exclusion from public housing, loss of driver licenses and commercial driver licenses, and exclusion from voting and jury service. The National Inventory can be viewed at: http://www.abacollateralconsequences.org/map/.

States that have enacted mechanisms to avoid collateral consequences have seen significant reductions in recidivism. The national average rate of recidivism is 49.7%. After Ohio enacted a law to provide a pathway back to employment for those with criminal convictions, the rate of recidivism in Ohio dropped to 27.1%. In Pennsylvania, expungement is severely limited and the Board of Pardons has a backlog of applications that takes many years to resolve. Many of these applicants are nonviolent offenders who wish to erase a foolish mistake from their youth in order to become a teacher, nurse, or other professional.

I intend to introduce legislation modeled on the Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act. The legislation will require the court administrator of Pennsylvania and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts to identify and publish a comprehensive list of all collateral consequences of conviction in Pennsylvania. Any person charged with an offense will be provided a simple notice of additional legal consequences that may follow from a conviction. Trial courts will affirm at the time of a guilty plea and at sentencing that the person knows about collateral consequences.

My bill will prohibit state and municipal employers from disqualifying a person from employment or professional licensure solely on the basis of a criminal conviction. The public employer may consider the facts and circumstances of the offense, as well as the effect on third parties of granting the employment opportunity or professional license.

The legislation will enable persons with criminal convictions to apply to the sentencing court for an order of limited relief from one or more collateral sanctions related to employment, education, housing, public benefits, or occupational licensing. The court will consider the person’s criminal history, public safety, any filing by a victim or prosecutor, and factors showing that the person has a substantial need for the relief in order to overcome collateral sanctions. After five years without a criminal charge, the person may apply for a more comprehensive certificate of restoration of rights, which relieves the person from all collateral consequences of conviction. These forms of relief will not be available to excuse registration by sex offenders or to set aside certain prescribed penalties relating to driving privileges.

Please join me in sponsoring this legislation to get nonviolent offenders back to work in Pennsylvania.

Introduced as SB1090