Award-winning rapper Meek Mill has been released from a Pennsylvania prison, after spending months behind bars for a minor violation of the terms of his probation. The musician’s experience has helped shine light on the failings of the American community supervision system, which imposes unnecessarily prohibitive restrictions on the lives of millions of Americans, setting them up to be reincarcerated.
With clean slate, Pennsylvania has the chance to provide real criminal justice reform. The clean slate process uses technology to automatically seal the records of certain criminal records, saving thousands of dollars in government resources and funds. The initiative has gained bipartisan support and has the potential to give second chances to thousands of Pennsylvanians.
Clean slate bolsters the economy by expanding access to work for job seekers with criminal records, explains Uber’s senior manager for public affairs in Pennsylvania. If just 100 people with criminal records were able to secure jobs in the region, it would yield $55 million in wages and $1.9 million in taxable income over the course of a lifetime. Automatic record-clearing proposals, such as Pennsylvania’s clean slate law, help ensure that a past mistake does not stand in the way of earning a living.
For Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, and Torrey Smith, a day off from their full-time jobs as players for the Philadelphia Eagles consists of meetings about criminal justice reform with Pennsylvania states legislators. Jenkins, Long, and Smith are fierce advocates for clean slate legislation, which automatically seals criminal records for people with minor, nonviolent convictions who have stayed crime-free for 10 years. Sealing criminal records is a way for people otherwise barred from jobs, education, and housing, to receive a second chance at life.
Despite their political differences, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Wagner (R-28) and Pennsylvania Rep. Jordan Harris (D-186) are teaming up to push the Clean Slate Act—a bill that would automatically seal criminal records for people who stay out of trouble. They’ve brought together a diverse coalition of bipartisan lawmakers in support of the bill, which has also earned approval from more than 80 percent of Pennsylvania voters. With strong support on both sides of the aisle, Pennsylvania’s bill is poised to become the first clean slate law in the country.
Pennsylvania Rep. Jordan Harris (D-186) announces the introduction of the Clean Slate Act, supported by a broad coalition of advocates, district attorneys, and lawmakers across party lines. The first-in-the-nation legislation, which is co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-88), would automatically seal eligible criminal records for Pennsylvanians who remain crime-free for a set period of time. A similar version of the bill has been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate, with support from Pennsylvania Sens. Scott Wagner (R-28) and Anthony Williams (D-8).