About the 2019 Outstanding Leadership in Legal Services Award Recipient
Clean Slate Legislative Initiative
The Clean Slate Law is a groundbreaking automated record sealing measure that enjoyed broad support from a diverse constituency of supporters. It is an extremely important bill for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians with old and minor criminal convictions or who were arrested but not convicted. Sealing a criminal case is a life-changing remedy for those who qualify, opening doors to employment, housing and education.
Clean Slate is the brainchild of Community Legal Services (CLS) and the Center for American Progress (CAP). CLS had been filing thousands of expungement petitions each year, but recognized that this filing process could only help the small fraction of people with records whom they could represent. With this in mind, CLS and CAP conceptualized an automated process to seal minor criminal cases. This reform was the lead recommendation in their December 2014 report, One Strike and You’re Out: How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records.
Clean Slate’s bipartisan support is unusual in these contentious political times. The prime sponsors in the House were Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) and Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia), who often have strongly divergent political viewpoints, but came together on this bill. A comparable Clean Slate bill in the Senate (SB 529) was sponsored by the unlikely pairing of Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) and Sen. Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia).
PLAN has named eighteen honorees to share the Outstanding Leadership in Legal Services Award, all of whom played very important roles in the enactment. Those receiving the award are: Gene Barr (Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry), Rep. Sheryl Delozier (Pennsylvania Legislature), Sharon Dietrich (Community Legal Services), Jamie Gullen (Community Legal Services), Holly Harris (Justice Action Network), Rep. Jordan Harris (Pennsylvania Legislature), Mark Holden (Koch Industries), Michael Hollander (formerly of Community Legal Services), Malcolm Jenkins (Philadelphia Eagles player), Ronald Lewis (former Community Legal Services client), Chris Long (Philadelphia Eagles player), Seth Lyons (Community Legal Services), Beth Anne Mumford (Americans for Prosperity), Greg Rowe (District Attorneys Association), Torrey Smith (Carolina Panthers player), Rebecca Vallas (Center for American Progress), Sen. Scott Wagner, Retired, and Sen. Anthony Williams (Pennsylvania Senate).
The list of honorees itself, and the affiliations of those honorees demonstrates what a major accomplishment enactment of Clean Slate was, including conservative and liberal supporters, professional football players, an affected client, and representatives of a political range of supporting organizations. All share the core value of trying to help productive members of our society be able to work and participate fully in our society.
All these people, and many more who stood behind them, worked to enact Act 56 of 2018, which passed the Pennsylvania House 188-2 and the Senate unanimously. It was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on June 28, 2018.