When should a former felon be able to wipe his record clean? A parade of witnesses yesterday urged a Rhode Island legislative committee to cut in half the time that certain criminals would have to wait before their records are eligible for expungement, says the Providence Journal. “I’ve been turned down to vote, I’ve been turned down for housing,” said Felicia Delgado. “We’re asking for forgiveness for getting our lives in order.” Current law allows expungement 10 years after a first offender felon finishes a sentence for a nonviolent crime.
The proposed easing of the expungement law drew vehement opposition from the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and child advocate’s office. “As you know, the expungement process permanently erases the entire record of persons who may now apply to work with our most vulnerable citizens — children and the elderly,” said Attorney General Patrick Lynch. Governor Donald Carcieri said, “Rhode Island law already provides for a very generous expungement standard. For the sake of public saefty, we should not make this standard even more generous. Weakening the standard undercuts the public’s right to know, jeopardizes public safety, and complicates the hiring process for employers.”