Wherever a group of people gather, judgment follows. The people within the group are sizing each other up. And, they’re passing judgment on those outside the group. But let’s face it; no judgment is harsher than against those who have a felony conviction (especially a sex offense). Being a convicted felon effects not just where you can work, but also where you are permitted to live. Without work, it’s hard to live (duh). We the people must balance our freedom of information about someone’s criminal history, with our desire to permit all of our citizens to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. How do we do it?
One simple way to get started is sealing or expunging a criminal record. Sealing and expunging is not THE answer, but it is a great start. It’s mandatory. For those of you with a criminal history, there are several government entities which have the garden hose of information fully blasting your negative criminal history information out into the digital world. Those faucets pouring out your information are located in three places, typically. First and foremost, the clerk of court. Most clerks of court have internet websites which make your criminal history available to anyone, anywhere, 24/7. If we seal or expunge your case, this faucet will get turned off. No one will be able to access that criminal history from the clerk anymore. But there are other government sources remaining. Tallahassee keeps diligent arrest records, but those faucets can be shut off by sealing or expunging because once a judge grants a Petition to Expunge, the local law enforcement agency that made the arrest must seal up access to those records.
So, I always recommend a citizen seal or expunge a criminal history. This is a no brainer. But the problem is, background checks can still expose an arrest record, even though it’s been sealed or expunged. And just as important as sealing a case is having internet sources shut off as well, and companies that are in the web reputation business can help with such matters. But sealing and expunging is a privilege for those not convicted of a crime. What about convicted felons? For convicted felons, they have paid their debt to society, yet the payments continue long past the prison time, probation time, classes, counseling, community service, fines, fees, court costs, and restitution. So, what can we do to help felons gain employment?