Session: 2023–2024

ACLU-PA Position: Supports

Clean Slate has already sealed over 40 million cases in Pennsylvania. It is an innovative way to clear records—the government uses technology to determine which records are eligible and clears those records. No one has to go to court, pay any money, or file any paperwork.

HB 689 (PN 2310) would build on previous legislative victories by making some property-related and drug felonies eligible for sealing, while shortening eligibility waiting periods. Specifically, HB 689 would:

  • Expand sealing eligibility for less serious drug felonies after 10 years without a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
  • Expand sealing eligibility for some property-related felony offenses, like theft and forgery, if they are graded in the third degree, restitution to the victim has been paid, and a judge grants a sealing petition.
  • Reduce the waiting period for sealing a misdemeanor offense from 10 years to 7 years conviction-free.
  • Reduce the waiting period for sealing a summary offense to 5 years.

Clean Slate helps qualified workers with criminal records access jobs: 1 out of 3 Americans has a criminal record and most employers and landlords do criminal background checks. Sealing helps people attain employment and housing because sealed offenses are not available to employers, landlords, and the general public while helping Pennsylvania employers find candidates for jobs that they desperately need to fill.

Sealing drug felonies will help address the consequences of decades of over-criminalization of communities of color: Despite comparable rates of drug use, people of color are disproportionately likely to be charged with and convicted of drug felonies. Felony convictions, no matter how old, prevent people from working. Applicants with drug felony convictions are twice as likely to be denied employment as someone without a record, and many occupations bar people with certain felonies, including drug offenses, from working in that field.

Reducing the waiting period for eligibility gets people back to work faster: The waiting periods proposed under HB 689 are consistent with research, which shows that the risk of recidivating is very low after these waiting periods.

For more information, visit Community Legal Services' resource site:

Governor Shapiro signed HB 689 into law on December 14, 2023 as Act 36 of 2023.


Representative Jordan Harris





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