Nearly 1 in 3 Pennsylvania adults has some type of criminal record—creating obstacles to education, housing, and employment. Monday, Pennsylvania’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved clean slate legislation, which would automatically seal minor, nonviolent criminal records for people who have remained crime-free for 10 years. The measure, which has bipartisan support, is also supported by 81 percent of Pennsylvanians.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced a new partnership with Code For America to develop and implement an automated criminal record-clearing process, starting with convictions eligible under Proposition 64 to legalize marijuana. The innovative partnership will restore opportunity to thousands of individuals with marijuana convictions, with no action required from the individual and little staff time or resources from the district attorney’s office. Code for America plans to expand the pilot program to bring automated record clearing to other counties in California, with the goal of clearing 250,000 records by 2019.
Award-winning rapper Meek Mill has been released from a Pennsylvania prison, after spending months behind bars for a minor violation of the terms of his probation. The musician’s experience has helped shine light on the failings of the American community supervision system, which imposes unnecessarily prohibitive restrictions on the lives of millions of Americans, setting them up to be reincarcerated.
With clean slate, Pennsylvania has the chance to provide real criminal justice reform. The clean slate process uses technology to automatically seal the records of certain criminal records, saving thousands of dollars in government resources and funds. The initiative has gained bipartisan support and has the potential to give second chances to thousands of Pennsylvanians.
Clean slate bolsters the economy by expanding access to work for job seekers with criminal records, explains Uber’s senior manager for public affairs in Pennsylvania. If just 100 people with criminal records were able to secure jobs in the region, it would yield $55 million in wages and $1.9 million in taxable income over the course of a lifetime. Automatic record-clearing proposals, such as Pennsylvania’s clean slate law, help ensure that a past mistake does not stand in the way of earning a living.