Breaking News: House OKs bill to destroy criminal records
May 21, 2008
We were just notified about this from the Executive Director of NAPBS®. The good news is NAPBS® has been successful 100% of the time when these issues arise. This Bill was passed 46 to 17 by the Rhode Island House.
We have written about these issues many times before. We support ex-offenders and their rights to enjoy gainful employment. In fact, GOSO (Getting Out and Staying Out) is one of our corporate philanthropy’s. We just think employers have the right to know! Employers have the responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for their employees, customers and vendors. Its a slippery slope when putting forth legislation such as this. My hope is that the RI Senate quashes this effort, if not, a Veto from the Governor is also possible. Please take the time to write to the RI Legislatures about this issue!
By Katherine Gregg
Journal State House Bureau
PROVIDENCE — Advocates for convicted criminals scored a victory on Smith Hill yesterday.
Despite objections from the attorney general, the state police and the governor, the House voted 46 to 17 for a bill to quash and destroy the records of criminal cases in which the accused was given a deferred sentence, usually in exchange for sparing the state a trial by pleading no contest or guilty to a crime.
The bill, which is now headed to the Senate, calls for the automatic destruction of all such records at the end of the deferral period — which usually runs five years, regardless of how serious the crime or the criminal history of the offender as long as he or she stayed out of trouble in the interim.
The bill sailed through the House with no debate yesterday after a heated — but short-circuited debate earlier this week — in which proponents assured their colleagues it was aimed at helping people remove from their records youthful indiscretions that were keeping them from moving ahead in life, school and jobs, and opponents noted the bill goes much further than the state’s existing expungement law in that it is not limited to nonviolent crimes by first-time offenders.
Beyond that, critics argued that it could be used as a legal club to try to prevent newspapers from publishing facts that the public already knows about crimes — or perhaps should know — if they involve candidates for a job, including public office. Current state law bars people with certain felony convictions from obtaining state licenses to work in nursing, social work and auto repair: this would provide a way around that.
“So now we are rewriting history and telling the newspaper they can’t refer to something that everybody knows about?” Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt, R-North Kingstown, asked rhetorically.
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