ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed the juvenile and criminal records expungement bill into law May 14, 2014.
Designed to help individuals rebuild their lives after contact with the criminal justice system, the legislation will provide expungement relief for Minnesotans pursuing a second chance, often long after they have been held accountable for their actions.
After recent MN Supreme Court decisions, many criminal and juvenile records were prohibited from expungement, indefinitely impairing access to basic needs, such as employment and housing. Criminal records have potentially devastating consequences for family formation, social cohesion, and life prospects. By providing reasonable and meaningful relief from these records, thousands of Minnesotans will have better opportunities for employment, housing, and education.
On May 9th, 2014, Minnesota Senators passed the expungement bill with incredible bi-partisan support of 58-3. The Minnesota House of Representatives passed the bill 84-48 on May 8th. The bill was chief- authored by Senator Bobby Joe Champion, and Representative Carly Melin.
Working closely with expungement law experts at the Council on Crime and Justice, with support from the Second Chance Coalition, and input from other stakeholders, the authors designed the bill to increase opportunity and promote public safety. Council on Crime and Justice Vice President and Second Chance Coalition Co-Chair Mark Haase, who led the lobbying campaign, acknowledged the many “at the legislature, state agencies, and other organizations who spent countless hours helping to create a carefully crafted and balanced change to some very complex law.”
The legislation provides specific remedies, including clarifying juvenile delinquency expungement, extending sealing powers to the executive branch, requiring private screening services to delete expunged records, and protecting employers and landlords from liability based upon an expungement.
Haase addressed Gov. Dayton and attendees, some of whom experienced barriers to second chances first-hand. Along with those who participated in the creation of the bills, Haase thanked “those who had the courage to come forth and speak publicly about some of their worst moments so that others could benefit,” including Katie Tourand, who testified before the legislature.
In 2003, Tourand was convicted of 2nd degree possession of a controlled substance, and in 2005, aiding and abetting of check forgery. She was 20 years old. Over the next 9 years, Tourand went on to complete all requirements of probation, manage a Subway store, become an honor society student, have a son, graduate from the Carlson School of Management, and be offered highly competitive positions at 3 Fortune 500 companies- only to have them rescinded after criminal background checks.
The Council on Crime and Justice works with the Volunteer Lawyers’ Network to provide expungement assistance. For further information, call the Criminal Records Information Line at 612-353-3024, and sign up for the Minnesota Justice Monthly newsletter at www.crimeandjustice.org.