Delaware General Assembly Passes Bill Erasing Criminal Records
Dover, DE. –Lawmakers in the Delaware legislature passed a bill which will expunge the criminal records of first-time offenders. Lawmakers hope this will give them a better chance at gaining employment after leaving jail. The reform expands the availability of expungement for individuals arrested or convicted of a single instance of a low-level crime and It passed the House Wednesday by a measure of 35-5.
An expungement can act as a lifeline, opening the doors to employment and reducing the risk of re-offending. This bill would expand expungements in specific circumstances, balancing public safety concerns with the need for post-incarceration rehabilitation and rebuilding.
“This is a jobs bill as much as it is a criminal justice system bill. This act will allow people to escape the stigma of their worst mistake and put people to work by removing the barriers that have limited economic opportunity for far too long,” Sen. Darius Brown, a democrat from senate district 2, said.
The bill requires expungements for some isolated misdemeanors once a petition has been received by the State Bureau of Identification, easing the burden on courts and the Delaware Board of Pardons. Judges could erase other charges, making their decisions with input from both the Delaware Department of Justice and any victims affected by the crime in question. People who have received a pardon for all but the most serious crimes would also be able to apply for an expungement.
The bill includes certain provisions to support law enforcement including: allowing police access to expunged records during criminal investigations and the processing of concealed carry permits, making clear that crime victims can testify when expungements are being considered, and clarifying that judges can consider expunged records when considering sentences for new crimes.
The bill is heading to Governor John Carney’s desk and Lawmakers expect he will sign it into law.