For the first time in Tennessee, some one-time, nonviolent offenders will have the right to expunge their felony conviction, forever erasing the criminal record, the Tennessean reports. A bill effective July 1 allows some offenders to expunge a select set of felonies and misdemeanors for a fee, after meeting all court requirements. The law applies only to offenders with a single conviction.
The economy has proved a powerful incentive for people to have their records expunged. As people lost jobs over the past few years, they found that criminal records often prevented them from finding work, particularly as more people vied for a smaller pool of positions. State and local officials say that economic pressure is responsible for a surge in expungements over the last five years, from roughly 23,000 in 2007 to more than 39,000 in 2011. Loosening the restrictions is expected to shatter all records, with a stunning 60,000 additional requests each year, according to a fiscal analysis of the approved bill. Tennessee is set to join at least 17 other states that have some mechanism for first-time offenders to expunge a criminal charge, says to a study by the University of Cincinnati Law Review