Expungement reform legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green, Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Jamel Holley, Raj Mukherji, Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Benjie Wimberly to help people reclaim their lives and start anew was signed into law on Wednesday.
The new laws prohibit employment discrimination based upon an expunged criminal record, accelerate expungements, increase the number of convictions that can be expunged and reduce the waiting period to expunge an entire juvenile record.
“Expungement offers an incentive against recidivism and lets people reclaim their lives,” said Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset), who has advanced several expungement reform bills. “It gives people who currently have little chance of finding legal employment the opportunity to leave mistakes behind them, find a job and be productive. The fact is the system is working against those individuals who have served their time and want to change and do better. These new laws, combined with the reform laws we’ve already passed, will go a long way toward giving people a hand-up as they seek to rebuild their lives and benefit their families and communities.”
“A criminal record can affect a person’s ability to secure housing, employment and even obtain loans for school,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Individuals who have learned from their mistakes should not be defined by their criminal records for the rest of their lives. It is a greater benefit to society when these individuals are able to put their past behind them and lead better, more productive lives. These can be life-saving reforms.”
“Too many families and communities in New Jersey are being broken apart because of the barriers those with criminal records face after they’ve already served their sentences,” said Holley (D-Union). “Making it easier for them to build a good future for themselves ultimately will benefit our entire state.”
“The sooner someone’s criminal record is expunged, the sooner he or she can get a fresh start and make positive contributions to society,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “Expungement reform is a good and necessary change for New Jersey.”
“There’s no benefit to continually punishing people who have served their time and now endeavor to redeem themselves,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Expunging their criminal records can help them continue on the path to recovery, which is a good thing for everyone – the person, their family, their friends, our business community, the taxpayers and the state as a whole. It’s reasonable to say that these bills will not just changes lives. They will save lives.”
“These are proactive measures that will help to reduce our recidivism and unemployment rates,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). “This is about providing second chances for residents who need one. When we give a person the opportunity to change their lives, we give them hope.”
The laws include:
· S-3306A-5036 (Green, Muoio, Holley, Wimberly): Prohibits employment discrimination based upon expunged criminal record;
· S-3307/A-5037 (Muoio, Mukherji, Green, Chiaravalloti, Holley, Wimberly): Decreases the waiting period to expunge an entire juvenile record from five to three years;
· S-3308/A-5038 (Muoio, Mukherji, Green, Wimberly, Chiaravalloti): Revises the procedures for expunging criminal and other records and information, including shortening of waiting periods for expungement eligibility and increasing the number of convictions that may be expunged.