States across the country are taking action to enact clean slate policies. This toolkit includes the following ways to join the campaign and take action: talking points, frequently asked questions, sample op-eds, sample letters to the editor, and sample social media and shareable graphics.
CAP’s Neera Tanden, Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA), and Co-Founder of the Players Coalition Malcolm Jenkins on Enactment of Pennsylvania’s Bipartisan Clean Slate Legislation
Pennsylvania has become the first state in the nation to pass clean slate legislation, offering thousands of people who have paid their debt to society a real second chance. The legislation will provide for automatic sealing of certain criminal records for individuals who remain crime-free for a set period of time. Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians will now get the second chance they’ve earned.
The Pennsylvania state Senate unanimously passed the Clean Slate Act, and the bill is now headed to the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf. The Clean Slate Act, also known as H.B. 1419, automatically seals the criminal records for minor, nonviolent offenders, removing a large, expensive administrative burden and opening the doors to opportunity for thousands of Pennsylvanians who have paid their debt to society. Once Gov. Wolf signs the bill into law, Pennsylvania will become the first state pass clean slate legislation.
Nearly 1 in 3 Pennsylvania adults has some type of criminal record—creating obstacles to education, housing, and employment. Monday, Pennsylvania’s Senate Judiciary Committee approved clean slate legislation, which would automatically seal minor, nonviolent criminal records for people who have remained crime-free for 10 years. The measure, which has bipartisan support, is also supported by 81 percent of Pennsylvanians.
A 2018 study from the Center for American Progress finds that, across party lines, American voters believe people who have paid their debt to society deserve a second chance. The poll finds 70 percent support for clean slate automated record-clearing, including 75 percent support among Democrats and 66 percent support among Republicans.
People with criminal records face barriers to jobs, training, education, and housing every day—which can often lead to a lifetime of poverty. By sharing first-hand experiences, people with criminal records can make their voices heard and raise awareness about unjust policies and practices that prevent people who have paid their debt to society from getting a second chance.
Occupational licensing laws govern who can and cannot work in certain professions—and many of these laws shut out entire swaths of the workforce based on their criminal record. This analysis finds that such provisions not only harm job seekers with records, but also violate the constitutional rights to equal protection and due process and undermine the safety of our communities. Accordingly, policymakers should follow the lead of states that have successfully changed or removed barriers to occupational licenses.