Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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January 10, 2013

Proposed bill would allow some criminal records to be expunged

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican State Rep. Jud McMillin calls himself a “do-the-crime, do-the-time kind of guy” but says it’s time for Indiana to build some more forgiveness into the criminal justice system.

McMillin, a former deputy prosecutor from Brookville, plans on filing a bill that would allow judges to expunge an old arrest or conviction from someone’s record if that person could show they’ve redeemed themselves.

The goal is to make it easier for people who committed a non-violent crime in the long ago past to erase their criminal history and have a better shot at getting a job or accessing other opportunities often denied to people with a record.

McMillin said his legislation fits with Indiana’s constitutional call for a criminal justice system that is built on “restorative justice.”

“I’m a ‘do-the-time, do-the-crime’ kind of guy,” McMillin said. “But I also believe that after your debt to society is paid, and if you can demonstrate that you have reformed yourself and that you’re trying to be a positive, contributing member to society, that we should give you that opportunity.”

Indiana currently has a criminal records “sealing” law that allows people with long ago, low-level arrests or convictions to get a court order to shield that record from public view.

McMillin’s bill would go farther: It would create a mechanism that doesn’t currently exist in Indiana by giving judges the authority to remove an arrest or conviction from a criminal record.

While the sealing bill applies to certain misdemeanors and class D felonies, McMillin’s bill would allow judges to expunge some class B and class C felonies from the records.

There are conditions on who would be eligible. There would be a waiting period of at least five years after a sentence is completed; violent crimes and sex crimes couldn’t be expunged; and the person seeking the expungement would have to show they’d stayed out of trouble.

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