Ga. House and Senate OK bill to increase options for restriction of criminal records

Georgia state Sen. Tonya Anderson speaks on the Senate floor.  Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
Georgia state Sen. Tonya Anderson speaks on the Senate floor. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

The Georgia House and Senate both voted unanimously Wednesday to pass a bill that would increase options for restricting access to criminal records.

Senate Bill 288, authored by Sen. Tonya Anderson, D- Lithonia, and shepherded in the House by Rep. Houston Gaines, R- Athens, would allow some misdemeanors to be restricted and sealed as long as the offender doesn't commit another offense within four years.

“This bill is intended to give people a second chance. And have their records restricted and position them for reemployment, for housing and to go back to school,” Anderson said.

When a record is restricted, the offenses are not visible to the public. Judges, attorneys and criminal justice agencies are able to view the offenses with a court order.

Offenders would be able to petition for their misdemeanor to be restricted as long as they haven’t committed another offense within four years, and the misdemeanor wasn’t violent or sexual.

Similar laws exist in other states.

“Forty-one states provide their citizens the opportunity for a second chance,” Gaines said.

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