State Expungement Laws Differ; Fed Plan Proposed


While Kentucky judges erase thousands of minor convictions and cases that ended in dismissals or acquittals each year, Indiana rarely allows cases to be expunged, says the Louisville Courier-Journal in the second in a series on criminal record expungement. The differences between Kentucky and Indiana are emblematic of the range of laws among the 40 states that allow at least some cases to be expunged or sealed, says a 2004 report, “After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry” prepared by the Legal Action Center of New York and Washington, D.C.

Although federal law does not contain expungement provisions, U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) has introduced legislation hat would allow some nonviolent offenders to have their federal cases sealed. Under the proposal, expungements would be granted to first offenders with a high school diploma or equivalency degree, who are drug-free, and who have completed community service. Anyone with an expunged federal case would not be required to divulge information about the conviction or expungement to prospective employers. Employers would not be allowed to exclude an applicant based on the information if it was obtained.


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