For the first time in history, criminal records will be sealed by automation.
In the past, if a person with a criminal record requests to seal their record from public viewing or use, they would need to hire an attorney and go through a long and often times expensive process.
Starting July 26th in the state of Pennsylvania, up to 40,000,000 criminal records will be automatically sealed without a hearing or paperwork.
Litigation Director at Community Legal Service, the nonprofit that helped craft, Clean Slate, Sharon Dietrich remarks that not only is this "The first day in the history of the United States that records will be sealed by automation" but it is "quite possible that, in the first week, more cases will be sealed by automation than have ever [in history]."
According to a recent study, only 6.5% of people are eligible for record clearing filed petitions. Automated sealing will address this "second chance gap" by sealing records for those who don't have access to lawyers, the costs of filing, or eligibility of their record.
Svoboda-Kindle states that we don't have an exact number of how many individuals will have their records sealed, but it's estimated that around as many as "30 million cases and 40 million charges" will be sealed as there is a large likelihood of multiple charges per case. "We imagine it could be around a million people in Pennsylvania, based on that."
Clean Slate uses technology to seal individual criminal records from public view. After charges are dropped, Arrest records will be sealed, and some minor conviction records will be sealed after ten years. This will be automated beginning June 28, 2019, and by June 27, 2020, over 30 million cases will be sealed without the cost of filing petitions in court.
In addition to pioneering an automated sealing process, Clean Slate has also expanded the number of misdemeanor convictions eligible to be sealed after a petition is filed in court. Once sealed, these records are not available to the public, helping people access employment, housing, and education.
Clean Slate will allow hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to move past their old, minor criminal records.