I’ve alluded before to the fact that getting a conviction expunged doesn’t guarantee you’ll come up clean in a background check. Often, it takes no more than a Google search to find news of an arrest or sentencing, while some government databases can still carry this information well after an individual has gone to the trouble and expense to get his/her record sealed.
Now some legislators in Ohio are trying to change that. A bill introduced by Sen. Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland), would not only enable ex-offenders to get their records cleared after 5 years. According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, the new law would also:
1. Require individuals and private businesses to erase the historical record by destroying “records” they hold about the convictions of those whose cases are sealed.
2. Require individuals, newspapers and other news media to delete stories from the Internet and their archives about the arrests and convictions of those who win expungement orders. This, or face fines and/or damages from $250,000 to $1,000,000.
Although the bill seems like a bit of a reach — particularly in its attempt to get media organizations to delete the historical record — it does shed light on the difficulties of starting over, even if you play by the rules. My take: People with criminal records who have had their records supposedly sealed, should not then have to have them used against them just because the information remains in the public record.
The question is whether a bill like this is the way to address it. What do you think should be done?