In Digital Age, Expungements May Not Eliminate All Records


Some of Utah's reformed criminals are discovering expungements are not the clean slate they were expecting, says the Salt Lake Tribune. The problem can be traced to the digital age and the proliferation of private companies offering background checks.

The private firms use data downloaded from courts and the prison system. Court-ordered expungements are effective at sealing government records of someone's conviction from the general public, but private record-holders are under no obligation to eliminate such information. It's unclear how many expunged convicts are caught by the private firms. Jon Syrett, of the Spectrum Security Group, says that he was able to find an expunged record in his database only three times in five years. The problem seems likely to strike more Utahns given the state has seen the number of expungement seekers increase from 337 in fiscal year 1998 to 1,952 in 2010.

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