Pa. lawmakers weigh measures to clear criminal records for some

Discussing expungement measures, Pennsylvania state Rep. James Roebuck speaks Tuesday at Philadelphia City Hall along with state Reps. Morgan Cephas (right) and Angel Cruz. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

Discussing expungement measures, Pennsylvania state Rep. James Roebuck speaks Tuesday at Philadelphia City Hall along with state Reps. Morgan Cephas (right) and Angel Cruz. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

Aiming to wipe the slate clean for people wrongfully convicted, arrested because of mistaken identity or acquitted, a package of bills has been introduced in Harrisburg.

Three lawmakers who have worked on the legislation visited Philadelphia Tuesday to discuss the array of bills.

“Consciously, we have been sending people back to crime by systematically denying them a second chance,” said Pennsylvania state Rep. James Roebuck of Philadelphia, who said he’s been working on the measure for 15 years.

“My legislation rectifies Pennsylvania’s unfair and inflexible expungement law, with respect to those who have been wrongfully convicted and subsequently exonerated,” he said.

Another bill gives high school students an opportunity to have suspensions expunged to prevent discrimination in college, said state Rep. Morgan Cephas of Philadelphia.

“Nearly 33 percent of colleges sometimes require special supervision of students with prior disciplinary violations,” she said. “Nearly 45 percent of colleges put housing restrictions on students who have prior disciplinary violations.

“More than one-third of the colleges prohibit students from even living in campus housing, depending on the nature of the disciplinary infraction.”

State Rep. Angel Cruz of Philadelphia said his bill would require immediate expungement of people who were arrested due to a case of mistaken identity.

The bills are still in the preliminary stage, so passage or a signature by Gov. Tom Wolf is still a long way off.

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