Washington, D.C. — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today passed first-in-the-nation bipartisan “clean slate” 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. The bill’s passage comes as criminal justice advocates mark April as “Second Chance Month.” Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has endorsed the legislation and is expected to sign it into law once it reaches his desk. Rebecca Vallas, vice president for the Center for American Progress’ Poverty to Prosperity Program, issued the following statement in response:
I commend Pennsylvania lawmakers for their groundbreaking efforts to enable Pennsylvanians with criminal records to earn a clean slate. A minor criminal record should not be a life sentence to poverty. Yet even a minor record such as a misdemeanor—or even an arrest that never led to conviction—can create lifetime barriers to employment, housing, and other basic building blocks of economic stability. These barriers stand in the way of successful re-entry, driving up recidivism rates and correctional costs. The consequences are felt not only by individuals with records but also by families across the state, as nearly half of Pennsylvania’s children have a parent with a criminal record. By enabling Pennsylvanians with records to earn a second chance, the Clean Slate Act will lift families out of poverty; reduce crime and recidivism; conserve taxpayer dollars; and most importantly, allow every resident to realize their full potential. All Pennsylvanians stand to benefit from the Clean Slate Act.
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