JEFFERSON CITY - A Senate committee heard a plea from a convicted felon to let her criminal record be expunged."We've paid our price, should we continue paying?" Patty Berger asked the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing testimony Tuesday, Jan. 26, on three bills that would make it easier to get criminal records deleted.
The committee heard testimony on three bills to lower the restrictions on getting criminal records deleted.
Berger, from St. Louis, said she had been sent to prison several times for 18 felonies during a 20-year period, but has since changed her life -- saying she has been drug and alcohol free for 15 year and now close to earning a college degree.Berger told the committee a state agency should handle expungements for all courts instead of paying a repeated fee in each court.
Because Berger had been convicted of 18 felonies in different municipalities, she said is unable to pay $500 per petition for record removal.Nobody testified against the proposals.
Rev. Wallace Hartsfield, Kansas City said many people change and should not continue to be punished by the inability to get a job just because of a previous criminal record. Hartsfield presented the fact that people of color tend to have a difficult time acquiring a job regardless of a record, and having a record they cannot expunge creates problems gaining employment.
Another witness was Jennifer Bukowsky from Columbia who owns Bukowsky Lawfirm and works with ex-felons hoping to get their record expunged. She said bills working toward expunging criminal records are important because she knows qualified individuals who are unable to work and support their families because of past mistakes.
Bukowsky said that many of these ex-felons are unable to buy concealed weapons, preventing them from being able to defend their families, which she feels is "un-American."
The provisions of the three bills include: