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Washington, D.C. – Considering the Judiciary Committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ unanimous decision to approve HB 689 (Clean Slate 3.0) and send it to the full House for a vote, Carson Whitelemons, director of criminal justice at Arnold Ventures, issued the following statement:

We applaud the recent action taken by the Pennsylvania House to advance an expansion of Clean Slate reform. Pennsylvania continues to be a leader in the Clean Slate movement. After Pennsylvania passed the first Clean Slate bill in the country in 2018, nine other states followed suit. Clean Slate 3.0 is the next step for Pennsylvania and would expand Clean Slate’s reach and create more second chances for the state’s citizens. Specifically, it would expand the existing law to include low level drug felonies, bringing the Commonwealth in line with the 37 other states that allow for some form of felony clearing, while also shortening the waiting period for misdemeanors. The legislation also includes key liability protections for employers.

People with records face more than 40,000 barriers to employment, housing, education, and opportunity. These barriers can act as permanent punishments and stand in contrast to the evidence that people’s behavior changes over time. This hurts not only the individual who has a record, but also their families and the economy more broadly. Recent research demonstrates that 40% of children are exposed to the criminal justice system through a caregiver by the time they are 18, and they face multiple adverse child development outcomes as a result. Moreover, the U.S. economy may be losing as much as $87 billion in GDP per year as a result of under-employing formerly incarcerated people. 

Clean Slate laws open up opportunities for the millions of Americans with criminal records by automating sealing arrest and conviction records once people have completed their sentence and remained crime free for a specified period of time. Arnold Ventures is proud to support Clean Slate expansion in Pennsylvania and around the country because of its potential to reduce barriers to reintegration and make our communities healthier and safer. We are also pleased to join with the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Justice Action Network, Community Legal Services, the Clean Slate Initiative, Americans for Prosperity, Associated Builders and Contractors, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Right on Crime, and the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice in supporting this important reform. We encourage the full Pennsylvania legislature to follow the lead of the House Judiciary Committee and advance the expansion of clean slate to increase opportunity.” 

Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. It is a team of more than 120 subject-matter experts headquartered in Houston with offices in New York and Washington, D.C. It works in four key issue areas: Criminal Justice, Education, Health, and Public Finance. Its work is guided by Evidence-Based Policy, Research, and Advocacy.