Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf took a historic step forward for criminal justice reform by signing the Clean Slate bill into law. He was accompanied by Representative Sheryl Delozier, Senator Anthony Williams, Representative Jordan Harris and advocacy groups. This legislation is the first of its kind in the nation and helps to make Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system fairer and more focused on rehabilitation.
According to PennLive:
“Pennsylvania is now blazing a new trail in criminal justice that will automatically seal an ex-offender’s record of lower-level non-violent crimes from public disclosure for someone who has been conviction-free for 10 years.”
As the first in its kind, the bill provides those with low-level, non-violent criminal records an opportunity to have their record sealed from public view, thus earning a clean slate and a second chance at life. It is estimated that nearly three million Pennsylvanians of working age have criminal records, many of which are only minor.
“I am proud to sign this legislation, which will make it easier for those who have interacted with the justice system to reduce the stigma they face when looking for employment and housing,” Governor Wolf said at the signing. “This bill is the latest step in my administration’s efforts to make our commonwealth and our society safer by helping those who have offended put their lives back together.”
The Clean Slate bill is the latest step in the governor’s efforts to reform the criminal justice system. Last year, he instituted a Fair-Chance hiring policy for state agencies which “banned the box” by removing the criminal conviction question for job applications. Today he also renewed his call for passage of additional criminal justice reforms. His proposed legislation includes:
- Justice Reinvestment Initiatives (JRI2)
- Bail and Pre-Trial Reforms
- Post-Conviction Relief Act Expansion
- Probation/Parole Revocation and Resentencing
- Indigent Defense
- Stepping Up Initiative