A New Era for Expungement Law Reform? Recent Developments at the State and Federal Levels
10 Harvard Law and Policy Review 361
25 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2016 Last revised: 29 Mar 2017
Date Written: August 16, 2016
In the past decade, due to heightened interest in criminal law reform, several states have enacted specific laws attempting to expand the range of expungement remedies available to individuals with publicly available criminal records. This article evaluates these efforts. It begins with a discussion of the pervasive availability of arrest and conviction records, both publicly and privately. It then surveys the myriad collateral consequences that enmesh individuals who have made contact with the criminal justice system and details how jurisdictions have responded with somewhat unambitious expungement regimes. It notes that while these remedies were crafted with good intentions, they were often limited by skepticism of the soundness of their legal basis. The article proceeds to evaluate a few legislative efforts at the state level that are geared towards increasing relief, discussing the texts of the laws in depth and comparing them with previously existing remedies. The article also evaluates recent federal legislative efforts and efforts in the federal courts to allow for expungement at the federal level. The piece concludes by situating these recent reforms within a broader discussion about how to alleviate the effects and collateral consequences of criminal records.
Keywords: expungement, criminal records, reform, federalism, criminal law, criminal procedure
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