Updated: Apr 19
Why this matters: One long-ago arrest even without conviction, or conviction for a low-level offense, can jeopardize someone’s chances of getting a job or promotion. And some states (mercifully not Pennsylvania*) use judicial records as an excuse to take away the right to vote.
Chester County’s Clerk of Courts Yolanda Van de Krol and her office have started sealing those low-level records, now that the state’s “Clean Slate” law has gone into effect.
According to “Pa.’s Clean Slate Act, a one-of-a-kind law that seals some criminal files, gets official introduction,” PennLive, 6/28/19, ultimately about half of all cases, including arrests with no conviction or convictions for non-violent offenses more than 10 years ago with no subsequent offense, will be sealed for most purposes.
The county’s press release (download here: Chester County begins Clean Slate legislation) quotes Van de Krol as saying “It is very exciting to be at the forefront of this type of criminal justice reform. Because of Clean Slate, a mistake will no longer define a person’s life and limit their opportunities.” See also Michael P. Rellahan, “Chester County starts wiping slate clean on arrest records,” Daily Local News, 7/28/19.
*PA strongly supports the right to vote for citizens with legal issues; see here for details.