“No one wants to be judged for the rest of their life by the dumbest thing they’ve ever done in their life,” he said.
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Fulton County has been holding record restrictions summits for more than a year, and thousands of people have come to get their records restricted if they have been arrested, but not convicted. The new proposal would expand the abilities of people with criminal records to get those records sealed.
People who have been convicted of nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors, and who have not been arrested for anything other than minor traffic offenses for five years, would be eligible to seal the records of one felony and three misdemeanors, according to the proposal.
Sex crimes, burglary involving a firearm and offenses related to minors are among those that could not be restricted. A petition to restrict and seal records would have to be filed in the same court the conviction occurred in and a judge would weigh the harm caused to the individual by having the record accessible over the public’s right to know about the person’s criminal history.
A spokesperson for the Georgia First Amendment Foundation said in a statement than they are concerned by the broadness of the expansion.
“If enacted, this legislation would potentially prevent the public from being able to learn about the criminal history of individuals found guilty of serious wrongdoing who have served time in prison, ” the statement said. “The public rightfully assumes criminal records cannot be erased, except in extraordinary circumstances. This legislation would make it much more routine. The bill needs much more discussion and debate before it is considered by the General Assembly.”
Those whose records are restricted would no longer have to say they were arrested or convicted of a crime if asked on an application, or elsewhere. But there are some exceptions, including people who are applying for jobs at criminal justice agencies, looking to get a professional license or work in a fiduciary position, or work at any school or other groups that work with children.
“Giving people a second chance means looking intelligently, in a holistic way,” Fulton County Solicitor General Keith Gammage said. “What I’ve seen is folks truly attempting to improve their lives.”
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