Pa. effort a model for national reentry initiative

Sharon Dietrich, Community Legal Services Litigation Director at CLS’s offices in Philadelphia.

The Center for American Progress, the National Employment Law Project, and Community Legal Services have launched a three-year, multistate initiative to remove barriers to economic opportunity for Americans with criminal records and their families. The initiative comes at a time when one in three Americans now have some type of criminal record, and nearly half of U.S. children have at least one parent with a record, according to an analysis by the National Employment Project.

The initiative, announced Tuesday, will focus on two issues — clean slate automatic record sealing, similar to an effort underway in Pennsylvania, and changing regulations for occupational licensing.

“Record-sealing is one of the most powerful tools for removing barriers to employment and more,” Sharon Dietrich, litigation director at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, said in a statement. “The heart of clean slate is the automatic sealing of minor records once a person has proven their rehabilitation by remaining crime-free for a set period of time.”