Kentucky lawmaker wants more ex-felons to be able to clear their - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky lawmaker wants more ex-felons to be able to clear their records

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KY Sen. Jimmy Higdon KY Sen. Jimmy Higdon

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky lawmaker wants more ex-felons to be able to clear their records.

Kentucky's current expungement law allows people convicted of 60 low-level or Class D felonies, and who have not gotten in more trouble, to go to court to have their records cleared.

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon (R – Lebanon) said he is going to introduce a bill for the 2017 legislature that expands the list.

“We want to make sure we never include any violent crime," Higdon said. "We make sure we never include a crime against a child or any crime that's sexual in nature."

But Higdon said there are other offenses, some connected to marijuana for example, which should be eligible for expungement.

“Trafficking in small amounts of marijuana is not an offense that's expungable," he said. "So I want to work on something to get rid of some of those felonies also."

While the current law requires ex-felons to be crime-free for five years before they are eligible for expungement, Higdon said some of those on the expanded list would have had to keep their noses clean for at least 10 years.

He mentioned his proposal during a meeting of Gov. Matt Bevin's Work Matters Task Force, a group charged with breaking down employment barriers. Higdon said a criminal record is a big one.

“When they go to get a job five or 10 years later, they’re denied that job because they're Class D felon,” he said.

Secretary of Justice and Public Safety John Tilley, who is also on the task force, said he supports efforts to help ex-felons get good jobs. He said those who do are three times less likely to return to jail.

“There's a dramatic difference for those who have meaningful employment on the outside transitioning back into society and those who don't,” Tilley said.

Tilley said reducing recidivism reduces the jail population and saves taxpayer dollars. But Higdon said his motivation goes beyond the potential economic benefit.

“We do have citizens in the Commonwealth that have Class D felonies that are good, hard-working folks that need a second chance," he said. "We are a society of second chances."

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