KY Dilemma: What To Do With Old Criminal Records


The Kentucky archives building and courthouses across the state are overflowing with files of misdemeanors and traffic cases that formerly were destroyed, says the Louisville Courier-Journal. “We’re drowning in paper,” said Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. A new committee will review how the state retains, destroys. and archives court records. The issue emerged as a hot topic two years ago after the disclosure that the state had destroyed misdemeanor and traffic records in Louisville’s Jefferson County that were at least 5 years old. Prosecutors and probation officers complained the purge made it more difficult to prove an offender’s past misconduct. Job applicants have said they are unable to prove that old charges were dropped. They are given a sheet of paper for prospective employers that says misdemeanor cases and traffic charges and convictions before November 2001 have been destroyed.

A previous committee condemned officials for ignoring the importance of the records and for not realizing they could be stored cheaply in electronic formats. Louisville prosecutor Dave Stengel called the situation in his county a “nightmare” and said the committee should quickly look to move away from its paper-driven system. “With the technology they have today, they can store this stuff on the head of a pin,” he said.


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