Joe DeStio/ KDKA Radio

Project Reset To Help People Clear Their Criminal Records

It will expunge or clear records for non-violent offenders if there's no conviction or after ten years if there are no new charges

August 07, 2019 - 11:03 am
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PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - A new Allegheny County program will help eligible residents get their criminal records sealed or erased.

It’s called Project Reset, because that what it does according to Chief Public Defender Matthew Dugan.

“What Project Reset will offer to public defender clients is really a change to reset and repair the past,” said Dugan.

While the state's new Clean Slate law seals records for eligible defendants, Project Reset will expunge or clear records for non-violent offenders if there's no conviction or after ten years if there are no new charges.

DA Stephen Zappala says he supports it.

“Obviously being arrested changes your life and the country gets it, law enforcement gets it.”

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says it’s for people who can't afford filing fees and the cost of a lawyer.

Fitzgerald says only 6.5 percent of people eligible to have their record cleared actually go thru the process.

“That 6.5 percent of people who get the Expungement, my sense is they have the resources, they have the means to hire the lawyers to get their records expunged.”

Former public defender, now Judge, Elliot Howsie, says it will help defendants finding jobs or housing.

“Even after there was a withdrawal or a dismissal and in some instances an acquittal, people were still forced to have to deal with the issue and the stigma of having to deal with the criminal justice system,” said Howsie.

A recent study found that only six and a half percent of people eligible for record clearing actually went through the process, either because of cost or not having an attorney.

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