In a turnabout from where he previously stood on the expungement of criminal records, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri allowed a bill to become law today that will remove from public view any record of cases in which an admitted criminal has been given a deferred sentence and then stayed out of trouble for five years, reports the Providence Journal. In the past, both Carcieri and Attorney General Patrick Lynch warned against expunging the records of people who, in exchange for the no-jail sentences, had to admit their guilt in court.
Carcieri said the sealing of even more criminal records would make it impossible for employers, including the state, to do meaningful criminal background checks, and it would allow people to adopt or work with children who otherwise might be barred. Carcieri spokesman Amy Kempe said the governor felt more comfortable about letting it become law because it “addressed many of the concerns the governor had previously expressed, and allows law enforcement access to the sealed records.” The new law allows a person who pleaded no contest or guilty to a crime to tell a prospective employer or landlord he or she was never convicted. A deferred sentence was the option favored by prosecutors and judges in cases involving 9,161 crimes over the last decade, including cases involving: accused stalkers, embezzlers, an admitted accomplice to a gunpoint robbery, one of the admitted co-conspirators in the a bribery scandal and at least one child molester.