For years, Justice and Mercy has advocated for policy reform in Pennsylvania which will help create second chances for those convicted of crime and that will create a justice system that incorporates mercy, restoration and rehabilitation. We have had success and setbacks along the way, many of which you will learn about in the course of reading this new blog. We have made great relationships with legislators and policy makers in PA who have a heart for those in the system.
In 2013 three courageous State Representatives: Rep. Patty Kim from Dauphine County, Rep. Jordan Harris Rep. Ron Waters from Philadelphia authored an amazing bill that will give second chances to those who have proven that they have reformed. The bill would automatically expunge the records of nonviolent offenders who have not committed new crimes for 7 years after completing their sentence. This would provide a desperately needed second chance and clean record to offenders who would then be able to obtain jobs and homes to provide for their families and become productive members of society. The bill is HB 908 and HB 909.
We need expungement reform in PA for many reasons:
- Currently if you are charged with a crime but found not guilty, or the charges are dropped, you STILL have a criminal record for the rest of Your life;
- Unemployment for offenders is more than double the average, which leads to more crime and a cycle of offense and prison. We can break that cycle by giving them an opportunity for a real second chance;
- Currently you can only expunge a record when you turn 70 or when you die;
- Our ideal justice system is one in which you are innocent until proven guilty, and where your slate is clean when you pay your debt to society. Those ideals aren’t met with a permanent criminal record for nonviolent offenders.
Justice and Mercy is advocating for this bill to become law, and hope you will join us. Justice and Mercy has helped to make this a bi-partisan effort, and Rep. Gordon Denlinger and Rep. Mindy Fee from the Lancaster area are leading the charge among republicans.
Please call your local legislator and ask them to support a second chance and a break from the prison cycle. Contact us for help finding your legislator.