INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– It’s a law that could give convicted criminals a better chance to turn their lives around.
In July, Indiana’s new expungement law took effect. The law allows criminals who have served their time, an opportunity to petition the court for their criminal records to be removed from public records.
Many people have questions about how the new law works, so local law enforcement, legislators and legal professionals gathered in Indianapolis on Wednesday to answer them as best they could.
Hundreds of people lined up before the event, many of whom were looking for a second chance.
“I’ve cleaned my life up and I’m just trying to clean my record up now,” said Michille Rutheford.
Rutheford finished serving time for a felony 16 years ago, but she still can’t get the kind of jobs she wants.
“Yeah it still comes back at me,” she said.
“I’ve paid my debt to society and I’m trying to be a better person and be a role model for my kids,” said Yancy Micks.
Micks says it’s been hard to provide for his family since completing his sentence for a business burglary several years ago.
“I’ve been trying so hard. I just can’t seem to find employment,” Micks said.
Expungement is not available for convictions of murder, sex crimes and misconduct by public officials.
According to the law, those convicted of other felonies can now file for expungement anywhere from eight years after their conviction to ten years after completing their sentence, depending the type and severity of the crime. Misdemeanor convictions are eligible for expungement five years after their conviction.
“We are required to have to notify victims,” said Andrew Fogle, with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. “On all crimes.”
In addition to giving victims a say in the process, law enforcement will also continue to have access to all records and can use them if someone commits another crime.
But the records will not be visible to potential employers.
“If people don’t get jobs and can’t take care of their families they are going to commit additional crimes and that is not a good thing for society,” said State Representative Cherrish Pryor.
“I think it’s real important, really important to give them a second chance at life, really,” Rutheford said.
Some organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, opposed the law, which would give drunk drivers the opportunity to wipe their convictions away. Supporters of the law say each case needs to be approved by a judge and they argue that the records reappear for good if anyone slips up again.
More information about the law can be found here.