INDIANAPOLIS — Legislation that would allow some people with long-ago arrests and convictions in Indiana to wipe clean their criminal record has moved one step closer to the governor’s desk.
House Bill 1482 passed through the Senate on a 39-11 vote and was sent back to the House for approval, because it was amended while in the Senate. The House author said he agreed with the changes made to the bill and would urge the House to follow suit.
The bipartisan-backed legislation allows for the court-ordered expungement of criminal records for mostly long-ago, low-level offenses. It’s been labeled as a “second chance” for ex-offenders whose past mistakes are immovable barriers to employment.
“This is a bill that’s really going to affect people for the good,” said Republican state Rep. Jud McMillin, a former deputy prosecutor from Brookville who authored the bill.
“There are a lot of bills here that can be controversial in nature and that draw people’s attention,” McMillin said. “But I’ve gotten more calls on this bill and every one of them is saying the same thing: ‘This is a bill that is really going to change lives and make things better for people.’”
The bill had the strong backing of conservative Republicans: Sen. Brent Steele of Bedford, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; and Sen. Mike Young of Indianapolis, chairman of the Senate Courts and Corrections Committee.
But it also had the backing of key Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson.
Indiana currently has a criminal records “sealing” law that allows people with arrests or convictions for low-level, non-violent crimes to get a court order to shield that record from public view after a number of years have passed. But it only applies to certain misdemeanors and some D felonies.