Bipartisan pair looks to take Pa. Clean Slate a step further

The state Capitol building in Harrisburg. (Tom Downing/WITF)

The state Capitol building in Harrisburg. (Tom Downing/WITF)

Just a few weeks after Pennsylvania’s landmark criminal record-sealing law took effect, two lawmakers are circulating a bill that would augment it. It’s part of a broader effort to make the commonwealth’s criminal justice system less punitive.

The Clean Slate law, as it is known, automatically seals records for non-convictions, summary offenses, and most nonviolent misdemeanors after ten years with no further offenses. The bill passed with broad, bipartisan support — and ushered a wave of similarly-minded bills into the forefront of the House and Senate.

But Philadelphia Democrat Sharif Street and Beaver County Republican Camera Bartolotta think the new law should go a little further. They’re circulating a bill that would, among other things, totally expunge non-convictions from records.

Bartolotta said even without a conviction, those records can hurt people’s job chances.

“That’s something that has shocked a whole lot of people,” she said. “They think ok, someone’s been arrested and then proven that they were not guilty — no conviction or anything — but they still have that arrest on their record.”

The proposed bill would also automatically expunge crimes that are pardoned by the governor — something Bartolotta said “should have been done all along.”

Under current law, people have to petition courts to expunge records, even after their crimes are pardoned. The process is generally lengthy, and can cost thousands of dollars.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.