Legislation (A-5981) that would revise expungement eligibility and procedures, including a new “clean slate” automated process to render convictions and related records inaccessible; create an e-filing system for expungements; and eliminate expungement filing fees for affected residents was signed into law by the Governor Wednesday.
Sponsors, Assembly Democrats Jamel Holley, Annette Quijano, Angela McKnight, Benjie Wimberly and Verlina Reynolds Jackson issued the following statements:
Holley (D-Union): “This is a fight for social justice –for the many residents who need a clean slate. This new law forges a path to real justice for over 2,000 eligible citizens and opens the doors to them for economic opportunity and a second chance. By shifting from the current system to one that is automated and carries a lesser financial burden, we can help more people gain employment and seize the opportunities life presents them.”
Quijano (D-Union): “Taking New Jersey’s expungement process from antiquated and onerous to one that can actually be navigated by a resident with success is major step toward justice for all. This move will make it possible for thousands of residents now and in the future to truly be able to turn the corner and not have long forgotten mistakes marking them like a ‘scarlet letter’ for the rest of their lives. After meeting all of their obligations, the ability to expunge these incidents from their record mean the difference in the type of job they can apply for and how much money they can make for their families. Most importantly, it will allow people to simply move on.”
McKnight (D-Hudson): “Making it possible for residents to clear their record and clean the slate will create employment opportunities, advancement and economic growth for those affected. Creating an avenue for residents to clear their name and their record moves New Jersey closer to equity and justice in the expungement process.”
Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic): “Changing the expungement system ensures fairness in implementation for all residents of all socio-economic backgrounds. Minor convictions that could have well been removed from a person’s record with an easier process in place could change the lives and the direction of many youth in our communities. An opportunity to expunge a criminal record could mean the difference between working and not working.”
Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon): “A more advanced and manageable expungement process will bring us a step closer to social equity and social justice for offenders who have not committed a law violation in years. Removing barriers to work opportunities and housing will help to raise the status of many African American and Latino American residents, providing them with the ability to move up in the workplace and climb the economic ladder. We needed to get this done for all of those who have been held back because of their record.”