To: Members of Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
From: State Bar of Wisconsin
Date: June 1, 2017
The State Bar of Wisconsin strongly supports the passage of AB 331, which expands the expungement of court records for individuals under the age of 25. The State Bar has long sought changes to this statute and applauds Representatives Steffen and Goyke, as well as Senator Darling, along with other legislators’ efforts this session to address this substantial public issue. Over the years, studies have shown time and again even minimal contact with the criminal justice system can have a significant detrimental impact on various aspects of a person’s life. The collateral consequences of a criminal record can be a life-long barrier to success, presenting obstacles to employment, housing, education, family reunification and often resulting in significant debt.
AB 331 allows for offenders before the age of 25 to petition for expungement of a criminal record upon completion of his/her sentence, rather than exclusively at the time of sentencing, which is currently the only opportunity an individual can petition for expungement. In addition, this legislation requires DOJ to redact any record of an expunged crime when responding to a public records request and clarifies that a crime is not considered to be a conviction for employment purposes if the record has been expunged. This legislation does not modify the crimes that are eligible for expungement, nor does it change the age in which an offender is eligible for expungement.
Expungement is an issue that has been before the Legislature and the Supreme Court during the last several years, yet, despite extensive study and discussion, there have been few changes made. AB 331 is the opportunity to reverse that trend, as well as improve the lives of those who continue to struggle well into adulthood due to the consequences of poor choices as a young adult.
For these reasons, the State Bar respectfully requests Assembly Criminal Justice members to support AB 331.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the State Bar lobbyists, Cale Battles, firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 695-5686, or Lynne Davis, email@example.com or (608) 852-3603.