Clean Slate Legislation Explained
By Sen. Scott Wagner
I recently announced that I am the prime co-sponsor of “Clean Slate Legislation” with Senator Anthony Williams.
Some people have asked for an explanation of the legislation and why I am introducing it.
First, it is important to point out that this legislation will affect non-violent criminal offenses only.
At my company, when an applicant is filling out our job application, we have a question on our application that asks if they have ever pled guilty, pled no contest, or been convicted of a crime.
We do not judge the person based on a yes response, and in many instances we may hire the person.
There are many companies that ask the same question on their job applications as we do, if the question is answered yes, the application is automatically not considered.
It is estimated that three million or more Pennsylvanians have non-violent crimes on their criminal records.
Here is an example of a non-violent crime which stays on a person’s record for their lifetime.
Today, there is a 40 year old man who lives in Pennsylvania, and at age 18 he was arrested for having a small quantity of marijuana in his possession, which resulted in a misdemeanor level criminal charge.
In this case, 22 years ago this person made a mistake and has carried this crime from 22 years ago with him to this day.
Other misdemeanor examples would be a DUI charge (Driving Under the Influence) or a minor theft of something valued under a specific dollar amount.
Now this person has the opportunity to attend a trade school to learn how to weld, and potentially increase his annual earnings by 40 percent.
There is a company in the area that is hiring welders and the company will pay for the tuition at a trade school to allow this person to become a trained welder, but they do not hire people that have past criminal offenses.
It is critical for everyone to know that there will be a lot of debate about this legislation, and it may pass if members of the legislature become educated on the issue, or it may not receive enough support and fail.
There are a large number of people who are affected by this issue and I am sure there are many people who have a family member or a friend who has also been affected.
At our company, we do not want people to lie on our applications, but instead be able to be honest, so that they have fair consideration for employment.
We want to give the person applying for a job at our company the same opportunity as an applicant who does not have a criminal record.
The process today is for this person to hire an attorney to clear their record, which can be expensive with no guarantee that the offense will be removed.
The legislation I am introducing and co-sponsoring would be an automatic process where the person’s record is sealed, and no court petition would be required.
The Clean State Legislation that we are introducing has the following provisions.
This is a very important provision: for the process of sealing the persons record, they MUST have a period of 10 years that is crime free from the date of their offense that is to be sealed, and all court obligations must have been fulfilled – there are zero exceptions.
When the clean slate process is complete, criminal history will remain on record and can then only be accessed by law enforcement authorities and the record would be removed from public view.
We are working with law enforcement agencies and District Attorneys to address any issues or concerns they may have.
If the person’s record is cleared and they are charged with a crime in the future, their record is reversed and unsealed.
There are many details to be finalized.
My job as a Senator, is to introduce responsible legislation which has the opportunity to improve the lives of hardworking Pennsylvanians.
While this piece of legislation may be perceived as risky by some people, I view it as an opportunity to address a very large issue in Pennsylvania.
If this legislation would become law, it has the potential to change the lives of hardworking people who are trying to provide for their families and create a better life for their children.
This is one of the reasons I have decided to run for Governor of Pennsylvania.
I am ready to put party politics aside, provide leadership, and address real problems in order to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians.
I felt that people having concerns regrading my intent with this legislation should hear my reasoning for being a part of this effort.
Sen. Wagner represents the 28th District in the Pennsylvania Senate.
Clean Slate Legislation Explained