Recognizing the prison reform movement that is gaining popularity across the country, the Senate Judiciary Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence this week heard several bills that deal with the expungement of criminal records. The bills included SB 588, sponsored by Sen. Dixon, (R-Springfield), SB 603 sponsored by Sen. Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City) and SB 942, sponsored by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis). While there are differences in the bills, all the legislation would establish a process whereby ex-offenders could go through the court to have records of certain crimes sealed from the public.
Numerous ex-offenders testified to the committee that an expungement process would allow them to put their past behind them and move forward. Several indicated how difficult it was, even years after completing their sentence, to find meaningful employment and support their families because of their criminal record.
The MCC supports the concept of expungement as it follows the principles of restorative justice by allowing ex-offenders the opportunity to be restored in the community once they have been held accountable for the harm they caused.
The committee took no actions on the expungement bills.