On December 13, 2023, the PA Senate voted to expand Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law to qualified drug and property-related felony convictions. HB 689, or “Clean Slate 3.0,” already passed the House on June 5 and was approved as amended by the Senate. Governor Josh Shapiro signed the bill into law on December 14, 2023.
Under Clean Slate 3.0, less serious drug felonies will be eligible to be sealed by automation after 10 years without a subsequent misdemeanor or felony conviction. Other property-related felonies, such as thefts, will be eligible for sealing after 10 years upon granting of a court petition. It will also shorten waiting periods for sealing convictions of misdemeanor to 7 years and summary convictions to five years.
Drug felonies will not be eligible for sealing if a sentence of 30 months to 60 months imprisonment or more was imposed, which excludes more serious cases such as trafficking.
Clean Slate expansion enjoys wide bipartisan support at a time of partisan divide.
The prime sponsors in the House were Rep. (and Appropriations Chair) Jordan Harris (D-186) and Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-88). Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) and Sen. Anthony Williams (D-8) championed the bill in the Senate. A survey from Susquehanna Polling and Research also found that more than 80% of both Republican and Democratic voters supported added people with drug offenses to automatic record sealing.
Supporters of Clean Slate Expansion (HB 689) include:
- ABC Keystone (Associated Builders and Contractors)
- Americans for Prosperity – Pennsylvania
- Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
- Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania
- The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce
- Indeed, Inc.
- The Justice Action Network
- The National Basketball Social Justice Coalition and the Sixers
- The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
- Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association
- Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association
- Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance
Originally enacted as Act 56 of 2018, Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law has helped people with old and minor criminal records access jobs, housing, education, and other opportunities. “Clean Slate 1.0” was the first law in the country to use automation technology to seal eligible cases without a petition being filed, removing barriers to sealing faced by eligible individuals and reducing demand on valuable court resources. Act 83 of 2020, also known as “Clean Slate 2.0,” allowed cases to be sealed when fines and costs are still owed, removing a financial barrier to sealing. According to the Pennsylvania State Police and Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, more than 45 million cases have been sealed, helping more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians get a fresh start under these two laws.
Originally proposed by Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Clean Slate was the first program of its kind in the nation. Since 2018, ten states have followed Pennsylvania’s model and passed Clean Slate legislation to help people find jobs and address racial inequities in the criminal legal system. Today, Pennsylvania joins the 37 states that allow for some sealing of felony convictions.
This legislation aligns Pennsylvania law with best practices and evidence-based policies. Recidivism research shows that a person with a drug conviction is no more likely to commit a new offense than the general population after just 4 years without another conviction, but people with felony convictions can face a lifetime of barriers to employment. Applicants with drug felony convictions are twice as likely to be denied employment as someone without a record.
“Clean Slate expansion will allow hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to move past their old mistakes. I am grateful to our clients who spoke up to support this life-changing legislation and applaud our sponsors for their leadership,” said Sharon M. Dietrich, Litigation Director at Community Legal Services.
People whose records are newly eligible for sealing under the bill can file petitions to seal their records 60 days after Governor Shapiro signs the bill. Automated sealing will be complete 180 days after the signing, providing time for the Pennsylvania State Police and Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts to implement the needed changes.