New law means clean slate for Indiana ex-offenders
Ex-cons in Indiana may get a “second chance” thanks to new legislation that erases non-violent crimes from record books.
The law could help some former offenders get a fresh start in the job market, according to a report from local TV station WTHITV.
House Bill 1482 was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence on May 6. It allows ex-offenders to seal misdemeanors, such as DUIs or marijuana possession charges, after a five-year probationary period. Some non-violent and non-sexual Class D (the lowest ranking) felonies, like theft or residential entry, can be sealed after eight “crime free” years, according to a report from local radio station 99.3 FM.
“I mean, let’s face it. What if someone had a youthful indiscretion? And they got arrested and convicted of public intoxication, shoplifting, a minor drug possession offense, should that person be saddled with that conviction which might impede his or her ability to get a good job once they become much older?,” Indiana Judge Phillip Alder asked the TV station.
As part of the legislation, which was authored by Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), businesses will no longer be able to require applicants to divulge criminal histories, and will only be able to ask if they have been convicted of a crime that has not been expunged, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.
Some saw problems with the bill in its infancy. In August 2012, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported county clerks worried they could be sued if information was not properly redacted. Businesses specializing in criminal background checks questioned the legislation’s constitutionality.
Faced with these complaints, the language of the bill was altered to address the voiced concerns.
After three years of work by lawmakers, judges, prosecutors and others, H.B. 1482 and H.B 1006, a related bill that focuses state resources on the most serious crimes, are the first overhauls of Indiana’s criminal code since the 1970s, according to the Courier & Press.
“Indiana should be the worst place in America to commit a serious crime and the best place, once you’ve done your time, to get a second chance,” Pence said in a statement.