There's no question that those men and women who are ready to resume their life and make meaningful changes upon release from prison will face very real and very substantial obstacles. Indeed, one of the most difficult hurdles they're likely to encounter after paying their debt to society is finding steady employment.
Thankfully, this has become a somewhat less intimidating prospect here in New Jersey in recent years thanks to the "ban the box" legislation signed into law by Governor Chris Christie back in 2014, which dictates that employers cannot ask applicants about their criminal history until they have conducted an interview.
In recent developments, Governor Christie is now calling on state lawmakers to expand upon these efforts to help former inmates reintegrate upon release by sending an expungement reform bill to his desk prior to his exit from office in November.
What is the current expungement system in New Jersey?
The law currently dictates that those convicted of serious felonies cannot have them expunged from their record and limits expungement to only one conviction. Furthermore, expungement doesn't become an option until anywhere from five to ten years have passed since the completion of probation.
What would conviction expungement legislation look like?
No measure reforming the Garden State's expungement process has been drafted as of the moment. However, the governor indicated that he would be working closely with state Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson) to craft the necessary bill.
Experts indicate that this bill will more than likely seek to increase the list of felonies eligible for expungement, expand the availability of expungement beyond one conviction and shorten the waiting period for expungement considerably.
Is this really going to happen?
While nothing is, of course, ever certain as far as politics are concerned, Governor Christie appears determined to make expungement reform a reality. Indeed, he pledged to work with lawmakers from both parties on this matter at the recent Employee Opportunity Summit, and declared that expungement must be an option for "those who earned it and deserve it."
Stay tuned for developments ...
If you have been arrested or charged with any manner of criminal offense, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who will work to protect your freedom, your reputation and your future as soon as possible.