For people with a criminal record, second chances are hard to come by. But the NC General Assembly can change that narrative for more than 2 million North Carolinians living with criminal records.
The NC Senate unanimously passed The Second Chance Act (Senate Bill 562) earlier this month. The bipartisan legislation, which is now before the NC House, would expand eligibility for expungements, a court process that seals criminal records from public view.
Why this matters
1 in 4 Americans has a criminal record, including 2 million+ North Carolinians. These individuals spend YEARS trying to overcome past mistakes to lead productive lives as law abiding citizens.
Criminal records are barriers to jobs, housing and opportunity because criminal background checks and stigma automatically exclude where people can live and work, even if an offense is a misdemeanor.
If our community is serious about addressing equity and access to opportunity, we must expand eligibility for expungements. Currently, more than 90 percent of expungements granted are for charges that never resulted in a conviction.
Expungements expand access to a wider range of jobs and higher wages, which reduces the likelihood to turn to crime out of desperation.
NC will gain more tax revenue, make communities safer and reduce the costs of a revolving door criminal justice system.
What the legislation does
Automatic Relief: Automatically expunge criminal charges that have been dismissed or disposed of as “not guilty” after July 1, 2020.
Expands Eligibility: Allow people to petition to have certain non-violent convictions expunged after 5- or 10-years good behavior, depending on the offense.
Relief for Juvenile Offenders: Allow people with eligible convictions that occurred when a person was 16 or 17 years old prior to Dec. 1, 2019 to petition for an expungement, giving them the same rights as juveniles protected under the “Raise the Age” law.
Gives Prosecutors Discretion to Initiate Relief: Under the proposal, district attorneys would have the option to initiate certain expungement petitions, without relying on the individual to start the process.
What you can do
Tell your Representatives in the NC House to pass legislation that expands eligibility for expungements.