PA House Votes 189-14 to Expand Clean Slate to Felony Records!
On June 5, 2023, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 189-14 in support of Clean Slate 3.0! House Bill 689 expands Clean Slate automated record sealing to drug felonies and property felonies. If the bill passes the Pennsylvania Senate and the Governor signs it to become a law, Clean Slate expansion would eliminate barriers to employment for people with certain felony records and alleviate Pennsylvania’s tight labor market.
Clean Slate enjoys wide bipartisan support among Pennsylvania voters. A recent survey by Susquehanna Polling and Research found that more than 80% of both Republican and Democratic voters supported adding people with drug offenses to automatic record sealing. Additionally, 80% of households where someone has been a victim of a crime support Clean Slate Expansion.
Lead sponsors Rep. Jordan A. Harris (D-Philadelphia) and Sheryl M. Delozier (R-Cumberland) celebrated Monday’s victory. “The bipartisan passage of Clean Slate 3.0 shows that Pennsylvania continues to believe in second chances and expand the folks who can access them,” Rep. Harris said. “I’m incredibly appreciative to again work with Representative Delozier on criminal justice reform as well as the advocacy groups from both sides of the aisle who all recognize that this is the right thing to do for Pennsylvania and Pennsylvanians. I hope to see quick passage in the Senate so Governor Josh Shapiro can make Clean Slate 3.0 law.”
“The passage of House Bill 689 is another victory for meaningful criminal justice reform, and I am proud to have worked with Rep. Harris on this bill,” said Rep. Delozier. “Clean Slate expansion is about helping people who’ve earned second chances and promoting fairness in the system. I’m happy our colleagues saw the value of approving this important legislation and I look forward to seeing it advance in the Senate.”
According to the Pennsylvania State Police and Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, more than 43 million cases have been sealed, helping more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians get a fresh start under Clean Slate.
Originally enacted as Act 56 of 2018, Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law has helped people with old and minor criminal records access jobs, housing, education, and other opportunities.
- “Clean Slate 1.0” was the first law in the country to use automation technology to seal eligible cases without a petition being filed, taking up valuable court resources.
- Act 83 of 2020, also known as “Clean Slate 2.0,” allowed cases to be sealed when fines and costs are still owed, removing a financial barrier to sealing.
If Pennsylvania expands Clean Slate, we would join the 37 states that allow for some sealing of felony convictions. Currently Pennsylvania does not allow any felony records to be sealed.
Under the Clean Slate 3.0 proposal, less serious drug felonies will be eligible to be sealed by automation after 10 years without a subsequent misdemeanor or felony conviction. Additionally, other property-related felonies, such as thefts, will be eligible for sealing after 10 years upon granting of a court petition. It will also shorten waiting periods for sealing convictions to misdemeanor and summary convictions.
Drug felonies will not be eligible for sealing if a sentence of 30 months to 60 months imprisonment or more was imposed, which excludes more serious cases such as trafficking.
Importantly, this legislation would align Pennsylvania law with best practices and evidence-based policies. Recidivism research shows that a person with a drug conviction is no more likely to commit a new offense than the general population after just 4 years without another conviction, but people with felony convictions can face a lifetime of barriers to employment. Applicants with drug felony convictions are twice as likely to be denied employment as someone without a record.
A diverse array of organizations strongly support Clean Slate 3.0:
- The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
- The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber
- ABC Keystone (Associated Builders and Contractors)
- Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association
- Americans for Prosperity – Pennsylvania
- American for Tax Reform
- Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association
- Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance
Now that the House Bill 689 has passed the House with such overwhelming bipartisan support, it heads to the PA Senate where Senators Lisa Baker (R-20) and Anthony Hardy Williams (D-8) are lead sponsors.