New bill would allow some convicts to have records expunged

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Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow some people convicted of felony crimes to have their records cleared, based on behavior (WSYX/WTTE)

Several state lawmakers announced a new bill Monday to give convicts a second chance. They're sponsored bipartisan legislation to allow some people to clean their criminal record after years of good behavior.

The bill would allow someone with a felony conviction to apply to have that removed from their record. A judge would look at how that person has behaved since they were last convicted. Lower-level felonies would require 10 years of good behavior while a first-degree felony would require 20 years.

This is the latest in a series of criminal justice bills aimed at stopping one mistake from becoming a life sentence preventing someone from getting a job or a home.

“We got to understand people make mistakes," said Sen. Sean O'Brien (D - Bazetta), who has sponsored the bill along with Republican Sen. Michael Rulli of Salem. "If you’re looking back 20 years, that’s a long time and we have a good record by then to see how are they doing today, are they a threat and after 20 years that should be a pretty good indication.”

Not all felony convictions would be eligible to be removed from someone's record. Murder, voluntary manslaughter, child abuse, patient abuse, kidnapping, human trafficking, terrorism, domestic violence and any sexually based offense would be excluded.

O'Brien said he was confident there was enough bipartisan support for the bill for it to pass. The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee to start the legislative process toward becoming a law.