California Clean Slate Law follows Pennsylvania’s lead |

California Clean Slate Law follows Pennsylvania’s lead

Deb Erdley

California may soon follow Pennsylvania’s lead in sealing criminal records for nonviolent offenders who did the crime and paid their time.

The New York Times reported that California lawmakers are weighing a proposal similar to Pennsylvania’s law — and may take it one step further. While the Pennsylvania law kicks in only after a former inmate has stayed trouble free for 10 years, the California measure would seal such records from the public automatically after an individual has completed his or her sentence and paid any outstanding fines.

Like Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law, the California proposal would permit law enforcement agencies to continue to access to the data. But advocates say limiting public access ensures such records will no longer be a bar to employment and housing that can follow former inmates for decades.

Last summer, Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to pass a so-called Clean Slate law, which takes effect this year. The measure calls for authorities to seal the records of those convicted of misdemeanor and summary crimes after specific criteria are met. It also provides for arrest records that did not result in a conviction to be sealed.

Court officials in Pennsylvania are preparing to launch a computer program that would scrub hundreds of thousands of old records that meet that criteria.

Authorities in California could have an even bigger job on their hands if that state’s version of a Clean Slate bill becomes law.

The New York Times reported that about 8 million Californians have criminal records. Like the Pennsylvania law, the California measure would apply retroactively to those with old records who meet the criteria of the law.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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