'Clean Slate' Legislation Slowly Gaining Steam Allowing Individuals to Seal Convictions

In recent years, legislators and advocates have successfully enacted legislation across the nation with the aim of providing a more level playing field for individuals with a criminal history. The idea that people with a criminal past have increased difficulties in gaining employment is widespread. Advocates claim that former offenders who are unable to find employment are more likely to re-offend. ‘Ban the box’ legislation is a popular and well-known type of legislation that partially addresses this issue.

‘Ban the box’ primarily addresses when an employer may inquire about a candidate’s criminal past. Before ‘ban the box’ legislation, it was common for employers to inquire about any criminal past in the job application. Advocates claimed in this scenario, employers could easily dismiss the candidacy of an otherwise qualified person simply because of a criminal history, a history that may not even be relevant to the job in question. By delaying when that question is asked until after the first interview or after a conditional offer of employment has been made, it provides ample opportunity for the candidate to prove their qualifications for the job.

Watch our video on ‘Ban the Box’ laws.

Read our ‘Ban the Box’ Legislative Guide

Recently, another type of legislation is beginning to gain support, generally referred to as a ‘clean slate’ law. This type of law would allow former offenders to petition the sealing of criminal records after a set period of time has elapsed with any further criminal activity or automate the clearing of some criminal records at the state or county levels.

In June 2018, Pennsylvania become the first state to pass such a law. Entitled the Clean Slate Act, it allows individuals to petition the courts for their records to be sealed if a they have been free from conviction for 10 years for an offense that resulted in a year or more in prison and has paid all court-ordered financial debts. Additionally, it allows automatic sealing of records for second or third-degree misdemeanor offenses that included a less than two-year prison sentence and at least 10 years conviction free. The legislation does not allow record sealing for more serious crimes such as firearms charges, sexual offenses, murder, kidnapping, child endangerment, and endangering the welfare of children.

‘Clean slate’ laws are another evolution of ‘ban the box’. Laws that are set up to aid individuals with a criminal past who have proven over time they deserve a second chance. In a competitive economy and job market, it has become very popular among advocates and legislators alike to attempt to level the playing field and hopefully reduce recidivism rates.

It’s advisable for employers to understand the changing legal landscape concerning how governments handle criminal records. This way, employers will have a better understanding of what type of information they are receiving.

IntelliCorp focuses on providing our clients the full picture of their candidates while maintaining procedures that help keep our client legally compliant with all relevant laws.


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