More States Consider Automatic Criminal Record Expungement

At least 11 states have enacted laws that automatically seal certain criminal records, to help people find jobs and housing without long-ago mistakes posing unfair obstacles. Pennsylvania's 2019 law has helped an estimated 1 million people. Debates and criticisms focus on safety concerns; whether to grant law enforcement officials access to sealed records; and the limits of such protections based on types of crimes and how long ago they were committed. When expungement isn't automatic, the cost and complexity of applying for help can be so daunting that few manage to win a second chance.

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