The Legislature recently passed several bills that put Louisiana on a path toward a practical and simplified expungement process. These bills appropriately balance public safety with the need to reduce barriers to employment, housing, and education to those citizens who have demonstrated that they are deserving of a second chance.
We supported bipartisan legislative efforts that eliminate the secondary waiting period for those who are eligible for multiple expungements. This simple change in the law facilitates faster and more successful reentry. This bipartisan legislation also removes the requirement for 10 years of employment documentation for specific convictions and allows judges to set aside nonviolent, drug-related convictions if an individual successfully completes a recovery program.
These recent measures still maintains measures for keeping our communities safe. The list of ineligible convictions, including violent offenses, remains unchanged, and law enforcement will still have access to expunged records if someone is re-arrested.
This is a great start, but we have a lot more work to do. While Louisiana allows expungements of criminal records in many instances, our state lags far behind in providing access to that process. Clearing old criminal records is expensive and time consuming. For years, our offices have held expungement clinics; but, due to the overwhelming numbers, we simply cannot serve everyone who needs our assistance.
A common-sense approach that creates a clean slate for qualified persons with criminal records saves taxpayers money by reducing the costs of processing these requests and the net economic impact of giving people a fair shot at employment is immeasurable.
A nonpartisan task force of public defenders, prosecutors, and other law enforcement officials worked with state Reps. Ted James and Joe Marino to pass bills that move us closer to automating expungements already authorized under Louisiana law.
The task force will reconvene this year to make additional recommendations, and we fully support its efforts. We believe it is in the best interest of our community to continue this important work. We are proud to continue working together to serve the people of East Baton Rouge and to create a safer, more productive community for all citizens.
HILLAR MOORE III
chief district public defender