Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf was joined by representatives of Community Legal Services, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Center for American Progress, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, legislators, and various stakeholder and advocacy groups at the PA CareerLink Harrisburg Region to announce a program aimed at making it easier to navigate Pennsylvania’s new Clean Slate law.
“Clean Slate is an incredibly important piece of my administration’s commitment to helping formerly incarcerated or arrested individuals get their lives back on track,” Governor Wolf said “And as with any new law, implementation can be complicated and somewhat difficult to understand. Clean Slate is no different.
“So, for those looking to avail themselves of Clean Slate, who wish to wipe clean the slate of their past, there is help navigating the process, thanks to the organizations present here today.”
“My Clean Slate” is a program created by Community Legal Services in partnership with the Pennsylvania Bar Association to provide free legal consultation to Pennsylvanians in determining if they are eligible for the provisions of Clean Slate legislation, which went into effect on Dec. 26.
“We are so pleased that under the first phase of Clean Slate, more Pennsylvanians with old misdemeanors are now able to get them sealed,” Sharon Dietrich, Legislation Director for Community Legal Services, said. “As of December 26, 2018, non-violent first-degree misdemeanors and most simple assault convictions became eligible for sealing, if the individual has not been convicted for ten years and if no fines and costs are owed.”
“The Pennsylvania Bar Association is proud to be a part of this new effort to help Pennsylvanians better understand the Clean Slate law and, more importantly, to assist those with criminal records understand their rights under this new law,” said PBA President-elect Anne N. John. “For those eligible, the impact of this program will be life-changing, opening doors to better opportunities for housing and jobs.”
Clean Slate was passed with a near unanimous vote (188-2) and signed into law by Gov. Wolf on June 28. The law expands criminal record sealing to include more types of offenses, including some first-degree misdemeanors, which can be sealed by filing petitions. The law also creates an automated computer process to seal arrests that did not result in convictions within 60 days, summary convictions after 10 years, and some second and third-degree misdemeanor convictions if there are no subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions for a period of 10 years after the time of conviction. The automatic sealing provision will go into effect on June 28, 2019.
Pennsylvania was the first state in the country to pass Clean Slate and remains the only state with this law, with other states interested in and focused on Pennsylvania’s implementation.
“Center for American Progress commends Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania legislature for the state’s groundbreaking Clean Slate Act, which will enable hundreds of thousands of the state’s residents to finally have the second chance they deserve,” said Rebecca Vallas, Vice president of the poverty program at the Center for American Progress. “We are thrilled to see other states already following Pennsylvania’s lead by taking up their own clean slate bills—and to see bipartisan leaders in Congress now championing clean slate legislation for certain minor federal records as well.”
“As author of this new law, I encourage anyone with a nonviolent criminal record to see if they are eligible for this opportunity,” Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) said. “A minor mistake more than a decade ago should not keep someone from obtaining employment or renting an apartment. I am pleased to have spearheaded this effort and helped to make Pennsylvania a leader in the movement to erase a minor indiscretion from a person’s record.”
“Passing clean slate legislation was the first step in helping people become fully engaged citizens again, and now easing the process for them to get their second chance is next,” said state Rep. Jordan Harris, Democratic whip and cosponsor of House Bill 1419. “This system will help guide applicants through the process and I’m appreciative to have the support of Governor Wolf and Community Legal Services. I look forward to continuing to look at meaningful criminal justice reform to ensure all Pennsylvanians have a chance to move forward with their lives.”
“With the enactment of this clean slate legislation, citizens who have paid their debt to society and proven their rehabilitation can truly re-integrate into their communities,” said Senator Anthony Williams. “I look forward to welcoming these returning citizens to our workplaces and neighborhoods. There are too many people who have done their time and have worked to become fully integrated members of the community but are held back due to past convictions. Clean Slate is a great step forward in criminal justice reform and the movement to reduce recidivism.”
More information on My Clean Slate and how to access to free legal consultation is available here.