House Bill 40, filed by Representative Darryl Owens, passed the House on January 15th and is awaiting a hearing in a Senate committee. This bill would expand record expungement to include the lowest class of non-violent felonies for those who have served their court-ordered requirements and moved forward on the right path without further offenses or violations. A person who makes a bad decision that results in a criminal record, particularly a felony record, can have consequences decades after sentences are served, and many of those consequences affect their families and children.
Here are 3 reasons why clearing records of those with low-level felonies could help parents and their children:
- Parents can have increased opportunities for jobs. There is a substantially lower rate of employment for those with previous offenses. This may be due to the fact that those with felony records are ineligible to work in certain fields, or that employers are much less likely to interview applicants with a felony conviction on their record, even if the offense was non-violent and occurred several years prior with no further offense committed.
- Parents would be able to obtain higher education. Higher education is currently out of reach for many with a criminal record. And while it is well-understood that education is important in reducing poverty and increasing family stability, several scholarships and loan programs specify that those with a felony conviction are ineligible for assistance.
- Parents who work and have connections to their family and community are more likely to stay on track. Furthermore, research shows that if they do not have additional arrests within a few years, their chance of offending is no more likely than someone with no criminal history.