via Press Release:
ATLANTA (January 6, 2014) – Sen. Josh McKoon (R – Columbus) held a press conference in the Senate Press Conference Room today to announce the final report of the Senate Expungement Reform Study Committee. Based on the committee’s findings, a series of proposed recommendations were submitted to Governor Nathan Deal for further review.
“I am pleased with the thoughtful and deliberative approach the Senate Expungement Reform Study Committee took while analyzing the process for criminal record expungement and record restriction in Georgia,” said Sen. McKoon. “We still have a lot of work to do, but the findings of this committee show that we’re headed in the right direction.”
Chaired by Sen. McKoon, the Senate Expungement Reform Study Committee was created through the passage of Senate Resolution 247 during the 2013 Legislative Session.
The Senate Expungement Reform Study Committee, which was tasked with reviewing Georgia’s expungement process and analyzing the restriction of criminal records, held a series of four public hearings at the state capitol from mid-September through early December.
It was determined by the committee that clearing an individual’s name after a wrongful conviction or restricting access to expunged criminal records can be expensive, time-consuming and tedious. In addition, the committee found that inaccuracies or omissions in criminal history records are common and may hinder an individual’s chances of obtaining gainful employment or housing.
Based on these findings, the committee presented the following recommendations to Governor Nathan Deal for consideration:
- The State of Georgia should study the cost of upgrading all information technology systems that process, store, disseminate and restrict criminal records in Georgia.
- Georgia should make it a priority to identity certain criminal offenses for which records will be restricted by law after a period of good behavior following the offense.
- With limited exceptions, Georgia should consider restrictions on the use of certain questions relating to an applicant’s criminal history for housing/employment purposes.
- With limited exceptions, the state should adopt uniform standards for all state agencies and departments regarding an applicant’s criminal history and disqualification of state employment.
- The State of Georgia should amend the Georgia open Records Act to exclude information gathered in a suspect’s initial booking following an arrest.
- Georgia should create a private cause of action in favor of individuals whose criminal information is obtained by third-party background check providers and inaccurately or unlawfully reported to potential employers or landlords.
Governor Nathan Deal will now work with committee members and interested stakeholders to evaluate the committee’s findings and determine whether future reform efforts are necessary.