On April 26, 2023, CLS and a bipartisan coalition of criminal justice advocates and state lawmakers went to Harrisburg to support House Bill 689, the next expansion of Clean Slate. Just one week later, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously voted H.B 689 out of committee on May 3rd! If passed into law, Clean Slate 3.0 would allow people with drug felony and some property-related felony convictions to seal their records.
Lead sponsors Rep. Jordan A. Harris (D-Philadelphia) and Rep. Sheryl M. Delozier (R-Cumberland) championed Clean Slate’s success. Since 2018, more than 43 million cases have been sealed, helping more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians, but people with old felony convictions have not yet had the opportunity to get a fresh start.
Originally proposed by CLS Director of Litigation Sharon Dietrich, Clean Slate was the first program of its kind in the nation. Since 2018, nine states have followed Pennsylvania’s model and passed Clean Slate legislation to help people find jobs and address racial inequities in the criminal legal system.
Expanding Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law to felony convictions is the right thing to do. People who have struggled with and conquered addiction shouldn’t be held back from employment because of past mistakes.
If Clean Slate is expanded, Pennsylvania 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 crime-free years. 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.
More serious drug felonies will not be eligible for automated sealing if a minimum sentence of imprisonment of 3 years or more was imposed, which excludes trafficking and other serious or violent offenses.
Pennsylvanians know that Clean Slate works. A recent poll found that 8 in 10 Pennsylvania voters support HB 689, including 81% of Republicans, 82% of Democrats, and 80% of Independent voters.
This legislation would align Pennsylvania law with best practices and evidence-based policies. Recidivism research shows that a former drug offender is no more likely to commit a new offense than the general population after 4 years without another conviction, but felonies are by far the toughest employment barrier.
The General Assembly must pass this common-sense criminal justice reform legislation and continue to build on the success of Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law.
Contact your PA House Representative and ask them to sign on as a cosponsor to House Bill 689! Click here to find your legislator.