Pennsylvania’s 2018 Clean Slate law was a first-in-the-nation effort to help individuals with old criminal records find employment and help employers close a workforce gap. The law, which enjoyed strong bipartisan support, automatically seals from public view low-level criminal records if the individual remains crime-free for 10 years.
On the heels of its success and given an increased need for more jobs to be filled, the supporters who rallied behind Clean Slate a few years ago, including the PA Chamber, are pushing for additional measures that would expand Clean Slate to help more low-level former offenders qualify to have their non-violent criminal records sealed.
Last week, PA Chamber Government Affairs Director Alex Halper was among the testifiers at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on H.B. 1829, the Clean Slate expansion legislation.
“Advocates for and direct beneficiaries of Clean Slate report that this policy encourages individuals to reenter the workforce, look for employment, apply for and accept jobs. Employers report that individuals with a criminal record are often their best employees. We believe those expressing those sentiments,” Halper told committee members. “This population represents a potentially vast pool of under-tapped talent in Pennsylvania and we are urging action by lawmakers and employers to facilitate their employment.” He acknowledged that while there is no “silver bullet” to addressing Pennsylvania’s workforce challenges, Clean Slate should be part of a broad strategy.
Specifically, the bill aims to include expand Clean Slate to individuals who have committed lower-level drug felonies, expands the categories of criminal records eligible for petition sealing by courts, and shortens waiting periods for more minor convictions. The PA Chamber supports the bill and urges lawmakers to pass it.
Following the committee hearing, Halper participated in a press conference where he reiterated the business community’s support for H.B. 1829 and urged lawmakers to pass it.