States Need to Start Expunging Criminal Records and Stop Restricting Landlords

If cities around the country want to improve affordability indices as well as curb homelessness, why not try following their own procedures by expunging criminal records.

Cities and courts around the country do not have resources available to automatically expunge eligible criminal records. Therefor, if a person wants their record removed they have to either go through a lengthy filing procedure or a costly process of hiring an attorney; both of which should be unnecessary.

“I am a major redemption advocate,” says Bryan Mower president Western Reporting Inc., a national background screening company. “People make mistakes and pay for their crimes have a right to start their life over again. But if data on their criminal history is not expunged correctly, their record follows them around for the rest of their lives. It it just isn’t fair. Cities pay millions to incarcerate and nothing to rehabilitate.”

The City of Seattle announced recently the plan to restrict landlords’ application questions to prospective tenants regarding previous criminal records. The move is part of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s “action plan to address Seattle’s affordability crisis,” according to his Road map to an Affordable and Livable City. The recommended legislation is trying to ensure fair access to housing for people with criminal records while restricting these records to landlords in making credible decisions for tenancy.

“There are inequities in the criminal justice system that have lasting effects on communities, particularly on people of color which have created barriers to housing,” said Mower. “The answer is a simple one: follow your own procedures by expunging records and do it in a method that is timely and affordable.”

Mower also stated that if cities really want to improve homelessness and increase the affordability index they should not encumber the process of redemption by restricting landlords, but, rather, improve the process.

“Cities like Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah are tackling this issue with a helping attitude as opposed to a hindering attitude’” said Mower. “They will succeed in not only solving homelessness, but also allowing families the ability to be self reliant and at the same time reduce complexity in fair housing laws and legislation. It is a win/win situation.”

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