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February 8, 2013 (Courier-Journal)

Expungement offers Second Change

Nicole D. Porter, director of advocacy for The Sentencing Project, wrote an op-ed supporting a bill introduced by Kentucky State Rep. Darryl T. Owens that “would allow people with certain types of convictions to apply to court to have their criminal records expunged and removed from public view.

“Today, expungement is unavailable to citizens convicted of even the lowest level of felonies.

“The result: Tens of thousands of Kentuckians with a past felony offense are branded for life. Nationally, that number is 20 million.

“Research shows that the stigma of a prior conviction can limit the ability of some individuals to take steps toward personal responsibility.”

Since 2010, 17 states have expanded or established expungement policies.

Kentucky lawmakers, she writes, should “adopt a policy that encourages people to turn their lives around. This can only strengthen public safety. Owens’ bill will allow “eligible people to make the most of their lives and leave past mistakes where they belong — in the past.”

Issue Area(s): Sentencing Policy, Incarceration, Collateral Consequences