Opinion | When a Criminal Record Is Erased, or Is not

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To the Editor:

Re “After Jail Time, a Clean Slate” (Op-Ed, March 21):

As J.J. Prescott and Sonja B. Starr advocate, it is higher time to institute automatic expungement of records for minor criminal acts as soon as the formal sentence has been served.

Expunging a criminal record, on the other hand, does not help a particular person who is applying for a license, for instance, in law, actual estate and health-related fields, or for that matter most professions. In these cases, a conviction will nonetheless be regarded as by the board or agency. It is noted on the application kind.

In most states, as well quite a few occupations are overregulated. California, for instance, has far more than 200 regulated occupations every single has its personal board that has been delegated vast powers by the Legislature, which includes admission to be permitted to practice.

A felony that is later lowered to a misdemeanor will stay a felony in the eyes of most boards and will be discovered, ordinarily, to be disqualifying.

In most circumstances, such lifetime bans are unnecessary for defending the public. In addition to expunging criminal records, it is time to make acceptable policy revisions to limit these excessive powers, which perform against the rehabilitation we profess to present to most criminals.

Eugene M. Hyman
Los Altos, Calif.
The writer is a retired judge of the Superior Court of California, Santa Clara County.

To the Editor:

My knowledge with expungements for marijuana convictions in Brooklyn is constant with the “bad news” the writers report from Michigan: “Hardly any person gets expungements,” even when the possibilities are readily available.

Final fall, functioning with the Legal Help Society, Brooklyn Defender Solutions and the courts, my workplace made the very first system in New York State for the expungement of misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession.

We did this recognizing that quite a few of these convictions had been a outcome of years of racially disparate enforcement practices and primarily based on my belief that since my workplace no longer prosecutes just about all situations of marijuana possession, it was unfair to leave these previously prosecuted with the collateral consequences of a conviction.

We estimated that thousands of Brooklyn convictions may possibly be eligible, and we set up a fairly basic approach for applications: a free of charge consultation with lawyers to fill out a kind motion.

We received only a handful of dozen applications. We will continue to encourage applicants to come forward, but I agree with the writers that expungement — in our case, for misdemeanor marijuana possession — really should be automatic and enacted via legislation.

Eric Gonzalez
Brooklyn
The writer is the Brooklyn district lawyer.

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