New Clean Slate law helps PA residents with low-level criminal records

Local News

The new year could mean a clean slate for Pennsylvanians with low-level criminal records.

A new law has gone into effect to help those folks move forward.

Matt Heckel reported on how the law works from Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania’s new Clean Slate law went into effect last week to remove the stigma of having a criminal record, when it comes to employment and housing and to act as an incentive to stay out of trouble.

Over the summer, Pennsylvania lawmakers passed the Clean Slate law, a first of it’s kind in the U.S.

“Many times, Pennsylvania is last or close to last in getting things done. But when it comes to Clean Slate, we are first,” said Representative Jordan Harris, co-sponsor of House Bill 1419.

The Clean Slate law is designed to help people with criminal convictions in their past…a past that can prevent them from getting housing or jobs, even decades later.

“This is a jobs bill,” said Representative Harris. “This is about getting people back to work. You can’t lift people out of poverty if they can’t become gainfully employed.”

The bill will allow people with lower level crimes to get those records sealed…as long as they haven’t gotten in any legal trouble in the last 10 years and they’ve paid off any fines or court costs.

“We’re talking about things like minor drug possessions, DUIs, thefts, most simple assaults,” said Sharon Dietrich, Community Legal Services.

The Clean Slate law went into effect last week. Now, the state has launched a website, mycleanslatepa.com, offering free legal guidance for people interested in taking advantage of the new law.

“A mistake you might have made 10 years ago is not going to stand in the way of a good job, building a family, a career, a loan, going to college, getting a job,” said Governor Tom Wolf.

And the next phase of the Clean Slate law, which will automatically seal some lower level criminal records, will take affect in June.

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