HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania lawmakers proposed a new bill that gives people a second chance by somewhat keeping their criminal information private.
State Representative Patty Kim along with District Attorneys and several others are supporting reform of criminal records. The bill gives judges the power to partly seal criminal records in certain cases. If passed, a person convicted of one second or third degree non-violent crime could ask a judge to seal their records to anyone but law enforcement.
Lawmakers say this bill will give people a second chance by helping them to receive public housing, money for education, and find a job.
"This is about 'how do we get people back into the workforce,'" Representative Jordan Harris said. "How do we get those who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law, who have turned their lives around, who have a proven track record of turning their life around... how do we get them back into the workforce and back as valuable members of our communities?"
Under the bill, a person with a third degree misdemeanor conviction has to wait 7 years until they can take their case to a judge. Someone with a second degree misdemeanor must wait 10 years.
Representative Kim says they want to put an end to a vicious cycle of people not getting opportunities and just ending up back in prison.
"Who pays for it? We all do," Kim said. "Let's make sure that these folks can stand on both feet by giving them these tools so that they move forward and we can keep the prison doors, cells... empty."