Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Bill to Support this session HB 59

Last year Rep. Chris England (D) Tuscaloosa, introduced a bill that would allow expungement of court records in cases where someone was arrested for a crime but never convicted.

Currently, Alabama citizens can be arrested and charged with a crime but not convicted and whatever you were charged with stays on your record forever. This affects ones ability to travel without restrictions or extra cost incurred (I have to pay an additional $1000 to a Canadian Immigration lawyer every time I go to Canada because of what comes up when they scan my passport), the ability to get a job, public housing, food assistance and if it is a drug charge federal student financial aid is denied. This happens to innocent people and has the power to absolutely destroy a life.

Take this case for instance. Yesterday I got an email from an attorney alerting me to the fact that Rep. England has pre-filed the bill again for the upcoming session. You can view a copy of HB59 here. This attorney has a client who was charged with first degree rape. This is from the email.

"Without any significant investigation, the Police arrested him. We later proved the victim to be lying about her accusation, and the case never made it out of grand jury. The problem is that my client is now walking around with a RAPE, FIRST DEGREE arrest on his record. You can only imagine how uncomfortable it is for him to try to explain that to a potential employer."

When you add in how the small country courts around here operate you can probably imagine that the current state of the law makes for tens of thousands of people walking around with something ugly on their record that they were never convicted of. Please also remember that it could happen to you at any time.

When the legislature comes back into session on Feb. 3 please call, email or preferably plan to visit your member of the House and Senate and ask them to support this bill.

I will be sending out alerts throughout the session on various bills including this one.

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