Thousands of Marylanders have had their arrest records removed from public view because of a new state law that requires automatic expungement for those who are detained and released without charge, reports the Baltimore Sun. Proponents say the nine-month-old law is working as intended, removing potential barriers to obtaining employment, housing and loans. Another major change in state expungement law takes effect Oct. 1, when some criminal convictions in Maryland can be wiped out without a pardon from the governor.
The changes are seen as especially important in Baltimore City. Tens of thousands of residents, many of them young men, have minor criminal records – sometimes as a consequence of “zero-tolerance” policies that result in large numbers of arrests without charges or convictions. But even the new laws don’t go far enough, some advocates say. They want the legislature to help people with minor drug convictions – whom the new law would not directly benefit. The law that took effect in October covers all crimes and has resulted in 7,092 automatic expungements through May 31. More than 6,000 originated in Baltimore.