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Tracie Johnson of Community Legal Services. Tracie Johnson of Community Legal Services.

Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law, which celebrated its first anniversary June 30, was a first-of-its-kind bill that cleared certain criminal convictions through automation. It has sealed more than 35 million criminal records so far, helping more than one million people to get a fresh start. In particular, the law has made a racial justice impact by providing record sealing relief to Black Pennsylvanians who remain targets of a criminal justice system desperate to maintain control over Black bodies.

We know that due to over-policing and racial profiling, Black people are disproportionately impacted by the criminal system, despite being no more likely than white people to commit crimes. We know that there are blatant racial disparities in terms of who gets arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced, with Black people facing harsher treatment on each front. As such, Black Americans are left to contend with criminal records that limit their opportunities for social and economic prosperity.

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