HARRISBURG – The Senate approved a key criminal justice reform bill today that would allow more Pennsylvanians to have criminal records expunged if certain conditions are met, according to Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46), who supported the bill.
The bill would remove a serious barrier to employment, housing, education and other critical services for individuals who are otherwise unable to complete the process of criminal record expungement due to the cost. The legislation builds on the success of the state’s Clean Slate Law, which has already led to the automatic sealing of more than 35 million minor criminal records.
Under current law, an individual who receives a pardon or is not convicted of a crime must pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in legal fees to file for expungement.
House Bill 440 would provide for the automatic expungement of criminal records after an individual is fully acquitted of an offense, as well as automatically sealing crimes granted pardons until the expungement process is complete.
Under the bill, individuals would still be responsible for paying all court-ordered restitution in order to qualify for record sealing. However, they would not face the additional costs of navigating the criminal record expungement process.
The legislation is similar to Senate Bill 883, legislation Bartolotta introduced last year. The bill was a major priority of the Criminal Justice Reform Caucus, which Bartolotta co-chairs.
“We see many Pennsylvanians struggling to find a job even if their criminal record is clean. Those who have old, unsealed criminal records after a pardon or non-conviction face an even more desperate situation,” Bartolotta said. “Helping more Pennsylvanians benefit from the Clean Slate law will streamline reentry to the workforce and level the playing field without any harm to public safety.”
The bill was amended in the Senate and was sent back to the House of Representatives for consideration.
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