The Pennsylvania Senate voted unanimously today to pass Senate Bill 391, which allows some offenders with misdemeanor convictions to expunge their conviction after satisfying a waiting period. The Foundation actively campaigned for support of this bill.
“We are a long way from enactment,” said Foundation Chairman Mathew Higbee, “but we are very encouraged by the unanimous support the bill received in the Senate.”
Senate Bill 391, which is sponsored by State Senator Tim Solobay, modernizes Pennsylvania’s expungement law by allowing many people with misdemeanors to expunge their record after they have proven that they are rehabilitated by satisfying a lengthy waiting period.
The Purpose of Senate Bill 391
Current law allows only the expungement of summary offenses, which are lower level offenses. SB 391 would allow individuals who have misdemeanors in the second or third degree to apply to have their criminal records expunged if they have not reoffended in seven years for second degree misdemeanors or ten years for third degree misdemeanors.
“This bill recognizes genuine efforts at rehabilitation; it makes sense for our justice system and it makes sense for taxpayers,” Solobay has stated. The law would reduce crime rates, lower unemployment, and would stop the medieval practice of labeling low-level offenders as criminals for life. The Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania have announced their support for the reform.
SB 391 was unanimously approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 17, 2013 and had since been awaiting a vote by the full Senate. The bill now heads to the State House of Representatives. If this legislation is enacted, Pennsylvania will join 19 other states that have expanded their expungement laws in the past five years.