Clean Slate bill goes into effect in Pennsylvania, will expunge criminal records of those who receive state pardon

12 June 2024- Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro hosted a ceremonial bill signing with Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, Majority Appropriations Chairman Jordan Harris, members of the General Assembly, and criminal justice reform advocates to celebrate the Clean Slate legislation that passed with bipartisan support and was signed by the Governor, he says, to make the Commonwealth more fair for all Pennsylvanians.

Last year, Governor Shapiro signed overdue criminal justice reform legislation into law as Act 36 of 2023. This legislation expands Pennsylvania’s landmark Clean Slate initiative and establishes a process for the automatic expungement of criminal records for Pennsylvanians who receive an unconditional pardon. This updated law took effect on Tuesday.

“A minor conviction from years ago shouldn’t prevent someone from getting a job or renting an apartment – especially if that person has received a pardon. And when someone gets a second chance, that should be a real opportunity to start over and succeed,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “I believe Pennsylvania is a place for second chances – and my Administration has invested in and advanced real criminal justice system reform. This is a cause that resonates beyond party lines, and that’s why this Clean Slate legislation was cosponsored by both Democrats and Republicans. This life changing bill includes a commonsense set of steps to remove unnecessary barriers for Pennsylvanians who want to rebuild their lives and meaningfully contribute to our communities – and I’m proud to be here with the lawmakers who worked together in a bipartisan manner to get this to my desk.”

As a state representative, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis sponsored a bill to provide automatic expungement for pardoned individuals, and he helped get this vital Clean Slate legislation over the finish line as Lieutenant Governor. The historic Clean Slate law was originally signed into law in 2018 by Governor Tom Wolf, leading the nation by making Pennsylvania the first state to seal criminal records through automation.

This is the third expansion of the law, which now allows those convicted of certain nonviolent drug felonies to have their records sealed automatically after ten years without another conviction and reduces the waiting period for summary convictions from ten to five years. Act 36 also changes Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate program by expanding the list of criminal offenses that are afforded limited access and reduces the amount of timean individual must stay conviction-free before a record of a misdemeanor or summary offense becomes eligible for clean slate.

“The Governor and I believe Pennsylvania should be a place where people have second chances. Over the past year and a half, we have heard from many Pennsylvanians who have worked hard to turn their lives around and make amends,” said Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis. “As a state representative, I introduced legislation to address the injustices in our pardon process, and as Lieutenant Governor, I was proud to continue to champion this cause, working with Chairman Harris and Senator Lisa Baker to incorporate automatic expungement language into the final version of this bill. This is a big win not just for the folks who earn a pardon, but also for their families and our communities – and it’s also a bipartisan win.”

The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) have been working to implement Clean Slate reform since the bill was signed in December. To ensure the process runs smoothly and effectively, PSP is working diligently to build out the process for expunging these records and is also preparing necessary changes to the Computerized Criminal History database.

Act 36 of 2023 was formerly House Bill 689 sponsored by Chairman Harris, which received bipartisan support in the General Assembly.