Proposal to Give Those Who've Gone Straight a Clean Slate

Mar 6, 2013

A Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday on a proposed expansion in the expungement of criminal records in Rhode Island. Supporters call expungement a way for former offenders to overcome past mistakes.

Deacon Jay Parker was one of the people to speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Parker says criminal charges from more than 20 years ago have been an obstacle when he’s applied for jobs.

He says the shadow of a past conviction is a big problem for former offenders looking to improve their lives in South Providence. “There are so many men who come through there who have the same exact problem: they’ve been clean, they’ve been good for seven, eight, nine, ten years, but they cannot find a job and they find themselves discouraged.”

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is backing a bill that allow for the expungement of up to five misdemeanors after a 10 year period free from crime. But one lawmaker said wiping out past convictions amounts to what he called a “legal fiction.” As is usually the case at this point in the session, the Judiciary Committee held the bills for further study.

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