Legislation to improve the expungement process in Kentucky heard in committee

The Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary heard testimony Thursday on legislation that would help automate the expungement process for eligible Kentuckians as they have reentered society.

During the testimony, Representative Kim Moser said that this legislation would only change the process for an individual that is already eligible for expungement, not change the expungement statute. This legislation pertains to low-level, non-violent arrests, and still requires individuals to complete a five-year waiting period after release, during which no crime has been committed, Moser shared.

Many individuals and groups spoke in support of this issue, sharing their stories of recovery and justice involvement, the barriers individuals face after being released, and the costly and difficult process of expungement through their own experiences or through the organizations they work for.

Josh Crawford of the Georgia Center for Opportunity said that this legislation would simplify the process for individuals, expedite their record clearing and get people on the road to employment and self-sufficiency.

He also added that the goal of improving the expungement process is to improve public safety, get people back in the workforce, and get people back into society in a meaningful way.

Reiterating the impact of expungement on employment, Amanda Hall of Dream.org added that stable employment remains one of the most effective tools to reduce recidivism and improve public safety.

Jesse Kelly of the Clean Slate Initiative shared statistics on the economic impact of criminal justice reform and engaging individuals in need of a fair chance, citing studies that show the country loses $87 billion dollars by cutting those with justice involvement out of the workforce.

In conjunction with the testimony, Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts released a statement in support of the legislation: “Expungement is one of several policy tools that can help alleviate workforce shortages in our state by encouraging employment and self-sufficiency among justice-involved Kentuckians. While Kentucky already allows for the expungement of non-violent, low-level felonies and misdemeanors, it can often be difficult and expensive for many eligible Kentuckians to navigate the system. Automatic expungement would simplify the process, which, in turn, would help more Kentuckians clean up their records and fully participate in the workforce.”  

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