Khalif Rainey
Press Release

Supervisor Khalif Rainey Calls for State Expungement Law Reform

Rainey’s resolution states that Milwaukee County supports efforts to give certain rehabilitated individuals a second chance by reforming and expanding the current expungement law.

By - Oct 22nd, 2015 01:40 pm

Milwaukee County Supervisor Khalif Rainey today announced a resolution calling for reform of the state expungement law for minor offenses, saying current law is “exceedingly narrow.”

Expungement is a process by which a record of a criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed.

“The State of Wisconsin’s current expungement law is obsolete,” Rainey said. “It only allows for expungement of misdemeanors and certain felonies committed by a person under the age of 25, and only if the request is made at the time of sentencing. Even if an individual qualifies for expungement, and the court expunges the record, the record is still available through the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which effectively nullifies any benefit whatsoever of the expungement.

“It is time to reform Wisconsin’s expungement law, get people back to work, lower recidivism, lessen the burden on Wisconsin’s welfare system, add to Wisconsin’s economy and improve the justice system.”

Rainey said the reduced output of goods and services of people with prison records is estimated at $57 to $65 billion in losses for the nation’s economy. He said the State of Wisconsin’s failure to address the shortcomings of the expungement law prevents people who were convicted of a relatively minor offense, paid their debt to society, and are rehabilitated, from re-entering society with a second chance at a better life.

“People make mistakes, especially when they are young,” Rainey said. “It is unfair for them to be punished well beyond their sentence because of those mistakes.”

Rainey’s resolution states that Milwaukee County supports efforts to give certain rehabilitated individuals a second chance by reforming and expanding the current expungement law. The resolution calls for clearly defining what expungement means; disallowing the use of expunged records in housing and employment matters; ending the age limit on expungement requests; and allowing expungement requests to be granted at any time – not just at sentencing.

The resolution was approved by the Judiciary, Safety and General Services Committee Thursday and will go to the full County Board for approval.

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