|Clean slate for ex-cons|
|N.C. law expunges some non-violent records|
|Published Monday, December 10, 2012 2:57 pm|
RALEIGH – The start of a new life for many North Carolina ex-felons began last weekend. On Dec. 1, a new law went into effect that expunged the records of first-time nonviolent misdemeanor and felony convictions for individuals who have completed their sentence for at least 15 years.
Those eligible are not automatically guaranteed expungement, however. They must show good moral character throughout the 15-year waiting period and that their criminal record is hindering them from equal opportunities.
“This new law is a measured but historic response to the heavy burden of collateral consequences weighing down the 1.6 million North Carolinians with criminal records – consequences that often follow individuals throughout their personal and professional lives, and can have a more devastating effect than their actual criminal punishments,” said Daniel Bowes, a staff attorney with the N.C. Justice Center’s Collateral Consequences Initiative. “Although this law is not perfect, it will make a huge difference in the lives of tens of thousands of eligible individuals across the state.”
North Carolina is now one of a few states that provide ex-felons an opportunity to start over, although the others require only a waiting period between five and 10 years.
“This new expunction opportunity demonstrates that North Carolina’s lawmakers are beginning to recognize that perpetually isolating individuals from gainful employment, affordable housing and community supports triggers collateral consequences that serve as barriers to re-entry and ultimately do more harm than good,” Bowes said.
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