Update on Ohio Senate Bill 197 Which Seeks to Expunge Felony Convictions

Nick Fishman

You might recall a couple recent posts where I respectfully disagreed with Ohio State Senator Shirley Smith’s proposed legislation that would allow some serious felonies convictions to be expunged from individual’s records. This was Senator Smith’s way of addressing the issue of those with convictions being excluded from jobs and the increase in recidivism rates when employment cannot be found.

That is a serious issue and one that deserves proper consideration. However, as I said before, inhibiting potential employers’ ability to make an informed decision is no way to address this problem. If such a measure was adopted, an employer that conducts background checks wouldn’t see the expunged conviction.

I was scheduled to meet with Ohio State Senator Lance Mason last week to discuss our concerns about this bill last week and I was looking forward to blogging about some of the ideas I had already discussed with his staffers. Unfortunately, Senator Mason had to cancel the meeting (it was for a very good personal reason). We are going to reschedule, but rather than wait for the meeting, I thought it would be nice to share one of Senator Mason’s remedies to this problem as relayed through his staffers.

Senator Mason believes that one such way to remedy the issue of re-entry into the workforce is to introduce tax credits to those that hire former convicts. I happen to believe that this idea has merit and am impressed with his ability to introduce a solution that serves all interests. I don’t know how it would be paid for, but in concept it doesn’t punish employers by keeping them in the dark about the people it hires and creates a way to get those who wish to enter the workforce after a criminal conviction to do so without having to lie on job applications or be fearful that past transgressions will automatically eliminate them from all employment opportunities.

This effort by Senator Smith is one we commonly see duplicated throughout the country. And in most cases, the intention is to make sure former convicts have a fair chance at assimilating back into their communities and can become productive memebers of society. These are honorable intentions. However, the ideas that Senator Mason has seem to strike a delicate balance of serving all parties involved.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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  • narda

    i am a convicted felon, i have served my time and i have done my probation, getting off 3 years early . i did something in my life totally wrong it happened all in a 7 month time span, and because i have 2 cases i’m not eligible for expungement. but if senate bill 197 passes the judge in my case would have the option to say yes or no. i think this would be the right thing to do. we give the judges the trust of making decisions on every other siuation, why not this one. I really need that thing they call a second chance..thanks for listening ….praying for a second chance…narda

  • Anonymous

    I am also a convicted felon who has served time for my wrongdoing.
    I am ineligible for expungement due to having 2 cases. I have been a law abiding citizen for over 15 years now, and I still feel like I am being punished for a crime that happened years ago. (I was young and naive.)If senate bill 197 passes, I will be able to move on with my life and finally get a college degree. I have recently been let go of the college program I was in, due to the felony conviction, and I have been at a stand still since then. Society in general, doesn’t realize what it’s like to be constantly told that you can never amount to anything. This is because there never seems to be an opportunity for a second chance.

  • Anonymous

    does anyone know the status of senate bill 197?

  • Anonymous

    We all make mistakes; this country was founded by rejects from the Britain. But that did not stop a great nation to grow. In the Bible it says; we should forgive our fellow man or woman. Why should we be vengeful towards our people who try to live beyond mistakes. We grow from our mistakes learning to endure the pain that took us there. Why can’t things change, the world changes, life changes, situation changes and so do people. I’m not going to talk about what I did in the past. It is about what I am going to do now. Now I am going to fight for my right to be an American. One who can contribute to our country. Not one who is going to take away from it. Let’s not talk about, let’s do something about it. I am tired of being a skillful American, with something to offer. I have kids, I want to be a positive influence in their life too! I helped build this country too, I not going to lie down and be stomp on until I die. Let’s do this along with the Senator! If you have any ideals to move forward and not backwards email me.

    iservedmytime@hotmail.com

  • Anonymous

    I too am a convicted felon of the first degree, one that does not allow for expungement. This happened over 10 years ago, how long do I have to pay for my crime? Shouldn’t “time served” BE “time served”? Even if we had to keep our record for several years past our incarceration, if a person reintegrates with society and is again a “tax payer” they should be able to move on with their lives and get a decent job. Most “decent” job employers and even temp services, won’t look once, let alone twice, at an application of a convicted felon. Enough is enough. If we are once again “useful members of society” then let us regain the right and have a chance to continue to prove that people are able to be rehabilitated.

  • Anonymous

    I found this site to support ex felones. We should support this petition! Sign up! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-labeling-and-discriminating-against-ex-felons It’s states “petition overview | letter
    STOP LABELING AND DISCRIMINATING AGAINST EX FELONS IN EMPLOYMENT!!!Target:STATE OF CALIFORNIA and the U.S. CONGRESSSponsored by: J. CHRISTIEI believe that it should be ILLEGAL to discriminate solely because of the stigma of the label EX FELON. Ex-Felons are people and would just like to reintegrate back into society and live a honest and upright life with the right to employment without having to check the infamous box which says, ” Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” As you have read my story @ http://www.myspace.com/36bluejay you will have faith that not all who are convicted are ANIMALS as portrayed by the justice system; therefore some of us need NOT be categorized and this is why I need the support for a new law for those one to two time offenders who have proven themselves unlike the rest.

    There is no JUSTICE for ex-felons whom may have been convicted of at least one crime and have payed there debt to society and lived a honest and upright life, with sobriety and peace? Why aren’t there any AVENUES?

    http://www.constitutioncenter.org/education/ForEducators/Viewpoints/WeThePeopleC ountsForEx-Felons,Too.shtml
    http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060331/NEWS/603310342/1036
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0401/p04s01-usju.html

    I believe that if a person made a mistake within their life and has not only paid the consequences, but learned from the demeanor which put them in the position they were in, they should be restored ALL their civil rights and citizenship WITHOUT and clauses. Let me add this very significant point, I am not in support of those career criminals or revolving doors and I trully feel that one-time offenders SHOULD NOT be categorized with those types of offenders, just as Politicians, Celebrities and Athletes aren’t being categorized as felons! You can read more on this in my life blog in the above links.
    “…I feel as though I’ve been diagnosed with an untreatable contagious disease for which I MUST BE Quarantined…” written by J. Christie

    From: iservedmytime@hotmail.com

  • Joe

    First, expunged records are for individuals who have lived a crime free life and are not a risk to society. For this reason is why the information is removed from public view. Continuing to judge someone for a crime they committed 30 years ago is backward thinking, no different if we decided to start judging people for the events they took part in as a teenager that now would be considered as crimes, or people who continue to drive recklessly by speeding maybe they should have their license taken away because they are a threat to other drivers on the roadway. Judges should be given proper tools to make qualified decisions whether individuals would be successful for expungement, not put blanket policies, and handcuffing judges from doing the jobs they are suppose to do. Everyone in the u.s. has done something that now would be a crime, or did do something and just didnt get caught. There are so many laws now that anyone can easily be wrapped into the world of a convicted felon. Do you know based on Ohio law, a person who is convicted of child support (felony) can not get their record sealed? All because the victim of their case is under the age of 18. So a person must pay child support right? But what can they do if no employer wants to higher them because they have a felony on their record. You may say the individuals has to explain what they had done and employers would disregard. This isn’t the case, one if its on the app employers won’t read it. Two, employers in ohio can be sued for negligent hiring, if they knowingly hire a convicted criminal and they committ a crime that causes harm to their employees. Sentencing is suppose to be finished upon final dispotion, and punishment through sentencing does not include or stated that person will and must suffer a more extensive sentence from society that goes beyond what the letter of the law clearly states. We pay money for the justice system, to arrest, to convict and to in-prison but we have no faith that our dollars are spent well so we rather keep these individuals below poverty levels so they have no other choice but to recommit another crime becaues no one will give them a chance. And lastly tax incentives DO NOT WORK!! they do not remove the unknown associated risks, liability or stereotypes from individuals who wish to not see these individuals succeed in life.

  • Tiffiny

    i want to know does anyone know what is going with Ohio senate bill 197 i am mother and I have to take care of my kids. people help. I am a very young but i do know what I need to do for my kids.I am both their mother and father but they wont give me a job. I don’t know what to do or how do go about. please help

  • JOe

    SB 197 died because it didn’t get through the necessary channels for voting. Our General Assembly opposes any sort of expungement reform, especially since they worked so hard to add restricitions to it in 02 and 04. What they don’t realize is the restrictions they put in place has led to a incarease in crime rates.