I realised that for people whose mistake was not of the driving variety, whether they got a citation for their dog getting off-lease or they did not cut their grass often enough to suit the HOA or maybe even bigger errors and omissions that are still being reported by the ubiquitous World Wide Web, it creates barriers. No matter how repenant, how successful in not again becoming engaged in a legal mistake, how completely they qualify to have those mistakes legally forgiven, their access to jobs, decent housing and full citizenship is warped.
And the really frustrating thing is that many (more than a half a million/500,000+) have the right to have those errors erased from their "permanent record" just like my traffic errors have been. But it is NOT automatic! It has to be applied for and the process is so cumbersome and difficult that many lawyers do not accept this kind of work although the initial retainer I have heard quoted is in the range of $5,000 up front. There are filing fees which are not so big, but a private individual (assuming that their education was not interupted by learning disabilities, medical issues or family challenges) SO OFTEN finds the barriers so much more than they can manage; LESS THAN 1% of those who are believed to be qualified are seeking expungement annually. So these "less than full citizens" (who are nonetheless expected to pay all the taxes levied on their less than competative salaries) continue to earn less, struggle to find safe housing and are restricted in where and how they can volunteer. And their families suffer with them.
But this year, amid the hundreds of bills submitted in the Missouri House and Senate (many of them less than important in the larger picture and most of which will never see the inside of a committee, much less a hearing room) are two bills that appear to have the traction needed to get this remediated. One bill in the House HB 352, and one in the Senate SB 347 in support of MO Clean Slale need to be nudged along by the Representtives and Senators that WE, you and I, nudge along! This is has been affected by the passage of Amendment 3 legalizing recreational marijuana use, including production for personal use and possession in modest amounts by individuals over 21 because the language in that bill has required expedited expungement (including for actively incarcerated invidiuals whose charges stem from covered changes). There are a LOT of attorneys who are following this, helping clients sufficiently affluent to pay their fees or because of their personal ethics, who are helping these folks, WHO STILL MUST PETITION THE COURTS TO ENFORCE THE NEW LAW individually. That is estimated to be an additional 18,000 who are "free to seek expungment" through courts, with filings and fees, with the need to transverse challenging legal requirements while earning less, living in less safe housing and trying to make no more mistakes worthy of the attention of the legal system.
Will you lend your voice to this effort? It means the restoration of dignity and rights to people who have already earned the right to have this done. For people who do expunge their records, experience tells us that withn a year their earnings increase on average by 10 to 25%. Can you imagine how that would be welcomed by their families?
Call, email, message or text me if you need a little coaching in how to bring this matter to the attention of your Represenative and Senate. And you can learn more at https://www.mocleanslate.org/