Washington, D.C. — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate on Tuesday introduced first-in-the-nation legislation that would enable individuals to have qualifying nonviolent misdemeanor convictions automatically sealed after they have remained crime free for a set period of time. Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in response:
I commend the Pennsylvania General Assembly for taking this important step to enable thousands of Pennsylvanians to have a second chance. Even a minor criminal record can present lifelong barriers to the basic building blocks of economic security and mobility—such as employment and housing—and can stand in the way of successful reentry and participation in society. Those barriers not only prevent individuals from moving on with their lives and becoming productive citizens but also confine their families: Nearly half of Pennsylvania’s children now have a parent with a criminal record. By enabling individuals with low-level nonviolent convictions to earn a clean slate after remaining crime free, Pennsylvania stands to make a sizable dent in its poverty rate, to boost labor-force participation, and to save taxpayer dollars through reduced incarceration costs—all while increasing public safety. Other states should follow Pennsylvania’s lead and take similar common-sense action.
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