McClinton: Criminal justice reform moves forward

HARRISBURG, Dec. 10 – State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, said the House Judiciary Committee on Monday cleared her legislation to build on the progress made so far in reforming Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system.

The committee passed House Bill 440 and adopted House Resolution 619 among 10 bills considered during the special meeting focused on criminal justice. 

“Last year, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to pass important reforms to the Post-Conviction Relief act and establish fairer DNA statutes that would allow individuals to challenge unjust convictions more easily,” McClinton said. “Now we want to build on that progress and allow eligible individuals to expunge their records, so they can continue to find jobs and housing.”

McClinton introduced H.B. 440 with Rep. Tedd C. Nesbit, R-Mercer/Butler. The bill would provide an opportunity to expunge an individual’s record if they have been unconditionally pardoned or fully acquitted of all charges, based on the same conduct or arising from the same alleged criminal episode. The commonwealth would receive notice of a potential expungement and would have an opportunity to object and conduct a hearing.

McClinton also introduced House Resolution 619, which would direct the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee to conduct a study collecting data about funding and caseloads for criminal defense in Pennsylvania.

“The state provides defendant representation in several different ways, so it’s important to understand the funding available and the caseloads for public defenders in the Commonwealth,” McClinton said. “We need to make sure resources are allocated properly so that every person in Pennsylvania gets a fair shot during trial.”

The results of the study would be reported to the governor’s office, in addition to the House and Senate Judiciary committees.