Bill Would Enable More People to Clear Records of Non-Violent Offenses
Assembly Democrats Jamel Holley, Arthur Barclay, Benjie Wimberly and Angela McKnight have introduced legislation to reform New Jersey’s criminal justice system by amending the state’s laws governing expungement.
“If an individual who made a mistake has paid his or her debt to society, that person should have the right to a fresh start. Instead, there are people in New Jersey who cannot find a job or secure housing decades after they committed a crime,” said Holley (D-Union). “This legislation is about providing people with a real opportunity to put the past behind them.”
The bill (A-4012) would allow an individual with more than one criminal conviction to apply to have his or her records expunged 20 years after the most recent conviction, payment of fine, completion of probation or parole or release from incarceration, whichever is latest.
Current law, which allows a person with a single conviction to file an expungement application after 10 years, does not allow for expungement of multiple convictions. Similarly, a criminal conviction involving the sale or distribution of illegal drugs generally may not be expunged under current law.
“A person who commits a crime may be sentenced to a set number of years, but the reality for some is that the punishment truly lasts for a lifetime,” said Barclay (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Reforming the law will give ex-offenders a second chance.”
“The implications of a criminal conviction affect not only the person who serves the time, but also his or her entire family and community. Without a clean slate, it’s much harder to be a provider and a productive member of society,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “So many men and women who were once incarcerated have so much to offer. All they need is a chance.”
“Many formerly incarcerated individuals come back home feeling like they have no future, because they know their criminal record always will be there to haunt them,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “In addition to opening doors to employment, housing and public assistance to help people restore their lives, this bill will provide hope, which is fundamental to successful re-entry.”
Records of a conviction for a violent or serious offense, such as homicide, sexual assault or arson, may not be expunged under the bill.