“’I just worry that we are over-promising something to millions of people — that there’s going to be a magic wand — but it’s going to take time,’ said Sarah Lageson, a Rutgers University professor who has worked on program to help people secure expungements.” That’s a quote from an article at nj.com, Why it’s still so hard to wipe away a criminal record despite promise of law Murphy signed. This thoughtful, balanced article describes the funding challenges NJ faces in order to make enacted expungement of criminal records effective in practice.
Clearance from the State Police would officially seal the record, but getting that clearance is
just one headache in New Jersey’s expungement system — historically among the most burdensome in the nation. Those seeking expungements that remove past criminal records from public view have faced a barrage of complicated forms and fees that prove nearly insurmountable to the average person. Add to that delays and other constraints, and only a small portion of people with criminal records are getting their records cleared.
The story adds that “a fully streamlined expungement system likely years away, [and] people seeking cleared records are still stuck with the old, complicated process.”
CDIA and its members have long advocated for a centralized, uniform, electronic system of court records, but that’s pretty hard to come by. “’There are pieces of papers in drawers in desks,’ [Gov. Murphy] said March 3 during a segment of Ask the Governor on WNYC…” CDIA’s support of Public Access Software Specifications (PASS) and the Uniform Law Commission’s model Criminal Records Accuracy Act, among other advances which will help job and apartment seekers, as well as employers and landlords.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More