Opinion: Clean the Slate for Nonviolent Offenders

By Stephen A. Zappala Jr., Allegheny County District Attorney

For the past 20 years, my office has prosecuted hundreds of thousands of criminal cases, and we have always operated under the philosophy that, when appropriate, the criminal justice system should be not only punitive but also rehabilitative.

Thousands of first-time, nonviolent offenders have seen their records expunged through the process of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, while others have been able to benefit from participating in one of the many specialty courts that my office has assisted in creating, courts that offer treatment and programs to defendants in lieu of incarceration, hopefully easing their integration back into a purposeful life.

Despite these efforts, there are still individuals who find that the minor crimes they committed years ago still have significant impact on where they can live, where they can work and where they can go to school.


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