Gov. Wolf Joins Legislative Black Caucus, Community Members at Clean Slate Event
May 02, 2019
Pittsburgh, PA – Governor Tom Wolf will join members of the Legislative Black Caucus later today as it hosts a community event on how to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s new Clean Slate law to erase barriers to homeownership, college admission, and job opportunities by sealing past arrests or criminal records. The event runs from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Community Empowerment Association, 7120 Kelly St., Pittsburgh. Gov. Wolf will speak to attendees at 5 p.m.
“Since taking office, I’ve aggressively pursued reforming our criminal justice system because it benefits everyone,” Gov. Wolf said. “Society does not benefit when it’s paying for mass incarceration. Reentrants do not benefit when they’re not given the opportunity to be productive members of society. Families do not benefit when one member can’t be a breadwinner because of a mistake made decades earlier.
“The Clean Slate bill tackles some of the issues that excluded people with the ability to work from the workforce and I’m really grateful to the Legislative Black Caucus for organizing this event to help as many people as possible avail themselves of this new law.”
Event participants include Duquesne Law, PennDOT, The Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Clerk of Courts Office, as well as members of the Legislative Black Caucus.
“Last year we passed the clean slate law, and it is already having a positive impact on individuals and our communities,” Rep. Ed Gainey said. “People make mistakes. We know this. This law gives folks who made mistakes a chance to succeed without the stigma of a minor conviction dragging them down. It is a privilege to have Gov. Wolf join us and help people get the second chance they deserve.”
“Once a resident of Pennsylvania has done what was asked of them by a judge, there’s no reason that those with minor, nonviolent crimes should have the specter of that crime follow them and negatively impact their life as they try to get on the right track,” Rep. Stephen Kinsey said. “Clean slate has the potential to open countless doors that previously were slammed shut and locked for those individuals with criminal records. Allowing returning citizens this opportunity will benefit our state as a whole.”
“Clean slate legislation was championed in broad, bipartisan fashion with Pennsylvanians’ best interests in mind,” Rep. Jordan Harris said. “Nobody wants to be judged by their worst day for the rest of their life. Those who have paid their debt to society need to have access to housing, economic and educational opportunities so they can continue down the right path in life. Clean slate is another step that provides them an opportunity which can lead to generational change for their family.”
Pennsylvania was the first state to pass Clean Slate legislation. Since the law went into effect in late December, Community Legal Services, which is offering free legal service to people seeking to avail themselves of this program, indicated more than 8,000 people have reached out statewide for help; 1,500 of them in western Pennsylvania.
Clean Slate expands criminal record sealing to include more types of offenses, including some first-degree misdemeanors, which can be sealed by filing petitions.
Clean Slate 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.
Once a record is sealed under Clean Slate, it can generally only be viewed by law enforcement entities (e.g. police, district attorneys, courts, etc.), employers who are required to consider records under federal law, and employers that use FBI background checks.
Most employers, landlords, schools, and the general public will not have access to sealed records. But, unlike expunged records, sealed records are not destroyed.
People started filing petitions to seal their records under Clean Slate on Dec. 26, 2018. Automatic sealing goes into effect June 28. More information is available at MyCleanStatePA.com.
“Thank you to the Legislative Black Caucus for organizing this event, which will help guide applicants through the process of exploring Clean Slate,” Gov. Wolf said. “I promise that I will continue to look at meaningful criminal justice reform to ensure all Pennsylvanians have a chance to move forward with their lives.”