North Carolina passes bill to potentially aid felons

PilotOnline reported this week how some felons in North Carolina would get a fresh start under a bill passed by a Senate panel that allows judges to erase some nonviolent convictions if the individuals met a series of requirements. To get the crimes expunged, 15 years must have passed since the conviction, and “good moral character” must be established and vouched for. It also permits probation officers to conduct a background check, district attorneys to contact victims and judges to throw out requests they feel don’t have merit. “We put every safeguard we could possibly put in it to make sure those people asking for a second chance are truly deserving of it,” said bill sponsor Republican Rep. Leo Daughtry of Johnston County. Daughtry shared anecdotes of people who could not get jobs decades after felony convictions. He said the bill will allow the repentant to contribute to society:  “There are so many instances where I think people need a second chance.” Concerns Still, opponents worry the measure is soft on crime and harms business owners. The bill received pushback in the House last week when it passed 76-39. Rep. Frank McGuirt of Union County was one of two Democrats who opposed the bill. The former sheriff said it could pardon undeserving felons. “This has all kinds of felonies and serious misdemeanors in there, and there was no age limit as I recall, and I just thought it was too wide and too broad,” he said. He said there should be a way to expunge records but that this bill “just went too far.” Far reaching effects for employment checks When it comes to an employment background check in this scenario, there are two distinct sides of this debate – those who believe in offering second (or more) chances to people, and those who want to safeguard their business from any potential harm. Yes – you can understand that an individual might have changed their ways, and therefore it’s unfair to let one mistake affect their job opportunities decades down the line. But what about those who will slip through the gaps? Just because someone has not been arrested for a crime for 15 years, it does not mean they are not committing crime. Lawmakers are certainly putting themselves on the line by passing such a bill. Should even one business owner fall victim to a criminal who has had their record expunged due to this law, there will surely be uproar among the many critics.  ]]>

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