Governor Tom Wolf of PA participated in a press conference to celebrate the one-year anniversary of signing Clean Slate into law and to announce that automatic sealing of criminal records has officially begun.
“Today, as the Clean Slate provision for automatic record sealing goes into effect, we will be freeing thousands of people from the handcuffs of history,” Gov. Wolf said. “These are people who have spent 10 years or more without reoffending or in some cases who were never found guilty or had their charges dropped. These are people who couldn’t shake the stigma of making a mistake because our faulty criminal justice system didn’t allow them to. I’m proud of the work we’ve done with the General Assembly and the legislators here today to right this wrong.”
Gov. Wolf spoke at a press conference organized by Justice Action Network and Community Legal Services where legislators, criminal justice advocacy groups, attorneys and people affected by Clean Slate spoke about how the law is being implemented and already helping thousands wipe clean past criminal records to remove barriers to employment, housing and education.
“Number one. Thirty million. Today is a milestone for Pennsylvania because of these two numbers,” said Jenna Moll of Justice Action Network. “Pennsylvania has become number one in the nation, the first state to provide automatic sealing of certain low-level criminal records, eliminating the complicated and often prohibitive process of seeking a court order to seal a minor record in one fell swoop. Within a year’s time, 30 million of these records will be sealed in Pennsylvania’s court system, improving the lives of countless citizens and breaking down barriers to employment and productive lives.”
Around one-twelfth of those 30 million cases will be sealed each month, starting with the most recent cases. This means that all non-convictions from the past 10 years will be sealed over the next few months, before any convictions will be sealed. The courts will be generating individual orders when cases are sealed, which the people whose cases have been sealed can retrieve at the county courts if they would like to have them.