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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 3, 2020 10:21 AM
From: Senator Katie J. Muth
To: All Senate members
Subject: Addressing Loopholes in the Post-Conviction Relief Act and Collateral Consequences of Conviction
In the near future, I will be re-introducing SB1323 and SB1324 from last session, which address the Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) and the collateral consequences faced after incarceration. 

In 1966, Pennsylvania passed the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (PCHA) as a response to the U.S. Supreme Court urging states to relieve them from federal habeas corpus petitions. Since the passage of the PCHA, the post-conviction relief pathway in Pennsylvania has caused consternation, complication, and controversy in the appeals process for the factually innocent. Our statutes have been the subject of repeals, amendments, and conflicting court interpretations for more than 50 years, leaving a population of innocent people without the ability to exonerate themselves after false conviction and imprisonment.

In addition to the civil justice failure the post-conviction landscape presents, there are very real impediments to societal re-entry known as collateral consequences. Collateral consequences are sanctions and disqualifications that place a burden on individuals trying to lead productive lives after incarceration. These consequences can include ineligibility for occupational or vehicular licensure; barriers to financial services such as student loans; restriction from access to public benefits, including subsidized housing, SNAP, and unemployment insurance; and the termination of parental rights. Without the ability to access post-conviction relief after supervision, many factually innocent individuals have been further and unnecessarily burdened. They have been unfairly penalized by the collateral consequences accompanying their wrongful convictions.

Please join me in addressing these important criminal justice issues by cosponsoring this legislation.

Document #1

Description: My legislation would amend both Title 18, Section 9122.5 and Title 42, Sections 9542, 9543 and 9545 to do several things.  Specifically, under Title 18, Section 9122.5 (Effects of expunged records and records subject to limited access), a subsection would be added to address collateral consequences of conviction, specifying that an expunged record may not prohibit an individual from activities under the laws of the Commonwealth as a result of their criminal conviction.

​Please see attachment for more information about this piece of legislation.
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Document #2

Description: I plan to introduce legislation modeled on the Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act and nearly identical to legislation formerly introduced by Senator Stewart Greenleaf. The legislation will require the Sentencing Commission of Pennsylvania 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.

Please see attachment for more information about this piece of legislation.
  View Attachment