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Friday, January 11, 2013

Ind. Law - Proposed bill would clean criminal record

Maureen Hayden, CNHI Statehouse Bureau, reported January 9th:

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican State Rep. Jud McMillin calls himself a “do-the-crime, do-the-time kind of guy” but says it’s time for Indiana to build some more forgiveness into the criminal justice system.

McMillin, a former deputy prosecutor from Brookville, plans on filing a bill soon that would allow judges to expunge an old arrest or conviction from someone’s record if that person could show they’ve redeemed themselves.

The goal is to make it easier for people who committed a non-violent crime in the past to erase their criminal history and have a better shot at getting a job or accessing other opportunities often denied to people with a record.

McMillin said his legislation fits with Indiana’s constitutional call for a criminal justice system that is built on “restorative justice.” * * *

Indiana currently has a criminal records “sealing” law that allows people with long ago, low-level arrests or convictions to get a court order to shield that record from public view.

McMillin’s bill would go farther: It would create a mechanism that doesn’t currently exist in Indiana by giving judges the authority to remove an arrest or conviction from a criminal record.

While the sealing bill applies to certain misdemeanors and Class D felonies, McMillin’s bill would allow judges to expunge some Class B and Class C felonies from the records.

There are conditions on who would be eligible. There would be a waiting period of at least five years after a sentence is completed; violent crimes and sex crimes couldn’t be expunged; and the person seeking the expungement would have to show they’d stayed out of trouble.

At least 26 states already allow some felonies to be expunged. * * *

One issue that won’t be easily resolved is what to do with criminal information on the Internet. McMillin’s bill would require companies that do employment background screenings to update their records, but can’t force the removal of information in digital archives that can publicly accessed over the Internet.

But McMillin said having a court order that shows a criminal record has been expunged may be helpful to someone seeking a job because that court order can be shown to a potential employer.

“At least it gives someone an argument to say to that employer, ‘I paid my debt to society and shown the state of Indiana that I’ve reformed myself,” McMillin said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 11, 2013 10:58 AM
Posted to Indiana Law