Harrisburg, PA – Today Senator Scott Wagner (R-28th) and Senator Anthony Williams (D-8th), together with Representative Sheryl Delozier (R-88th) and Representative Jordan Harris (D-186th), held a press conference to announce the introduction of legislation that will provide for automatic sealing of criminal records for minor offenses.
Termed “Clean Slate” legislation, Senate Bill 1197 and House Bill 1984 are the first of their kind in the nation. The goal is to allow individuals that have a criminal record but have proven themselves to be rehabilitated to seek opportunities currently inaccessible to them due to their criminal history.
“As a business owner I see firsthand the impact a criminal record can have on an individual’s attempt to obtain employment or advance their career. We are talking about people that made a mistake in the past and want to be contributing members of society. Clean Slate is an opportunity to end the cycle that many of these people find themselves in either struggling to find a job or working low-wage jobs just to get by.”
Both Senators acknowledged the unusual partnership but noted it comes down to the issue at hand.
Williams stated, “This Clean Slate legislation is a start for Pennsylvania to clean its slate. For too long, we thought the answer to crime was to lock everyone up. But we’ve found that when those offenders are sent home without skills they need or opportunities to prove their rehabilitation, they end up back where they started. This legislation will begin to break that cycle.”
Joining the legislators at today’s press conference were Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed, U.S. Justice Action Network Executive Director Holly Harris, Center for American Progress’ Poverty to Prosperity Program Managing Director Rebecca Vallas, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Litigation Director Sharon Dietrich, and HACC-York Career Services Director Britta Schwab.
Senate Bill 1197, currently awaiting referral to committee, has 22 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle: Senators Aument, Bartolotta, Blake, Brewster, Costa, Fontana, Greenleaf, Haywood, Hughes, Kitchen, Leach, McGarrigle, Schwank, Stefano, Tartaglione, Teplitz, Vogel, Ward, White, Wiley, Wozniak, and Yudichak.
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