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Monday, August 27, 2012

Ind. Law - Still more on the criminal history providers segment of last week's interim committee meeting

Updating this ILB entry from August 24th, Maureen Hayden, CNHI, had a follow-up story in the Clark County News & Tribune Sunday. Some quotes:

More than 1,700 Hoosiers have used the 2011 law to get court orders that seal those old records; in doing so, they’re no longer obligated to check the box on an employment application that asks if they’ve ever been arrested or convicted.

The intention of the law was to give people who’ve made stupid mistakes a second chance if they could show they’d straightened back up. But the problem in this 21st century digital age is that arrest and conviction records live on and on.

Third-party data collectors who buy and sell criminal records by the bulk aren’t yet required, under the state law, to update the information they provide to employers during background checks. That provision doesn’t kick in until next July.

During a hearing in the Statehouse last week, two of the biggest private data collectors threatened to challenge the state law in court. One part of their argument is that Indiana’s fractured court system makes it difficult — and therefore expensive for them — for them to chase down those court orders sealing those old records.

State Rep. Jed McMillin, a Brookville Republican and a former prosecutor, favors the 2011 law and wants to find a way to make it work. That may mean the state would create some kind of centralized registry of court records that third-party data collectors would pay to access.

Or it may mean that Indiana could mirror what some other states have done with their “second chance” laws: giving judges more discretion to expunge the criminal records of reformed offenders. Instead of just shielding the records from public view, as the law does now, those records would be erased — as if they were wiped away.

Still, the reality is that information in this information age is nearly impossible to erase. The 2011 law, for example, doesn’t cover the digital archives of newspapers where stories on arrests and convictions are plentiful.

ILB: As I wrote in this August 16th post, perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see how changing the restricted access law into an expuungement law is going to change anything, insofar as third parties are concerned.

Under the latter scenario, the criminal history providers are still going to have to find out that the records have been expunged and then do the same with their own records. How is this better?

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 27, 2012 10:25 AM
Posted to Indiana Government