Retired Judge Benham Sims Calls for Support of Expungement Reform Bill SB 79

Retired Judge Benham Sims Calls for Support of Expungement Reform Bill SB 79

The proposed expungement legislation, Senate Bill 79, http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/13RS/SB79.htm,
amends the current law in a number of significant ways:

1. Senate Bill 79 amends the current definition of “violations” so that prosecutors cannot not use a mere speeding ticket to object to the expungement of a criminal record.

2. Senate Bill 79 recognizes that all of us make mistakes and those of us who have committed minor criminal offenses(Violations and Misdemeanors) should be allowed to pay our debt to society and after a period of good behavior erase
the conviction for our past mistakes.

3. Senate Bill 79 addresses an omission in the current law that prevents thousands of Kentuckians who have been charged with felonies that were dismissed in District Court, or the Grand Jury refused to indict, or the prosecutor dismissed from expunging their charges. The current law provides no mechanism to expunge the felony charge. This is fundamentally unfair and Senate Bill 79 provides a procedure for those charged with felonies that were dismissed to expunge their record and restore their good name.

4. Senate Bill 79 preserves the right of police agencies and prosecution agencies to maintain records for legitimate investigative and record keeping.

5. Senate Bill 79 provides a protocol for the courts to insure that all parties (prosecutors, victims, and the person seeking the expungement) have an opportunity to be heard on whether an expungement should be granted or not.

>6. Senate Bill 79 recognizes that other states are granting expungements to their citizens and unless Kentucky also joins their ranks, our citizens will face a significant disadvantage in competing for jobs with out neighbors.

7. Senate Bill 79 recognizes that minor offenses and violations should not be a life sentence. The law recognizes a common truth that:

People make mistakes and mature, people learn from mistakes and lives are changed by sobriety, education, faith or parenthood. If a person has committed a crime, paid the debt to society and broken no laws for five years, how does it
serve the public to prevent that person from finding a good job?

The crimes we are talking about include cashing a bad check, failing to return a rented TV on time, shoplifting as a part of a high school or college prank, driving under the influence or experimenting with marijuana. The individuals seeking expungement are not habitual criminals; they are us. How many people are denied or fail to seek better jobs with better benefits which help families? For these individuals, life becomes a vicious cycle of job rejections and despair so
that they will never enjoy the fruits of their education or their willingness to work hard. I hope you will work with me to help Kentucky families. All it takes is a phone call, letter, or email.

I urge you to call your State Senator and
your State Representative today.

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