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H.R.623 - Second Chance for Ex-Offenders Act of 2007


Title: To permit expungement of records of certain nonviolent criminal offenses.
Sponsor: Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] (introduced 1/22/2007)      Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 1/22/2007 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
 
Contact Congress to voice your support for this bill at:  http://www.fedcure.org/ContactCongressREP-SEN.shtml.
 
 
Second Chance for Ex-Offenders Act of 2007 (Introduced in House)

HR 623 IH

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 623

To permit expungement of records of certain nonviolent criminal offenses.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 22, 2007

Mr. RANGEL introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


A BILL

To permit expungement of records of certain nonviolent criminal offenses.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Second Chance for Ex-Offenders Act of 2007'.

SEC. 2. EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS FOR CERTAIN NONVIOLENT OFFENDERS.

    (a) In General- Chapter 229 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after subchapter C the following new subchapter:

`SUBCHAPTER D--EXPUNGEMENT

      `Sec.

      `3631. Expungement of certain criminal records in limited circumstances.

      `3632. Requirements for expungement.

      `3633. Procedure for expungement.

      `3634. Effect of expungement.

      `3635. Reversal of expunged records.

      `3636. Unsealing of records.

`Sec. 3631. Expungement of certain criminal records in limited circumstances

    `(a) In General- Any individual convicted of an nonviolent offense who fulfills the requirements of section 3632 may file a petition under this subchapter to expunge the record of such conviction.

    `(b) Definition of Nonviolent Offense- In this subchapter, the term `nonviolent offense' means a misdemeanor or felony offense against the United States that does not have as an element of the offense the use of a weapon or violence and which did not actually involve violence in its commission.

`Sec. 3632. Requirements for expungement

    `No individual shall be eligible for expungement under this subchapter unless, before filing a petition under this subchapter, such individual--

      `(1) has never been convicted of a violent offense (including an offense under State law that would be a violent offense if it were Federal) and has never been convicted of a nonviolent offense other than the one for which expungement is sought;

      `(2) has fulfilled all requirements of the sentence of the court in which conviction was obtained, including completion of any term of imprisonment or period of probation, meeting all conditions of a supervised release, and paying all fines;

      `(3) has remained free from dependency on or abuse of alcohol or a controlled substance a minimum of 1 year and has been rehabilitated, to the satisfaction of the court referred to in section 3633(b), if so required by the terms of a supervised release;

      `(4) has obtained a high school diploma or completed a high school equivalency program; and

      `(5) has completed at least one year of community service, as determined by the court referred to in section 3633(b).

`Sec. 3633. Procedure for expungement

    `(a) Petition- An individual may file a petition for expungement in the court in which the conviction was obtained. A copy of the petition shall be served by the court upon the United States Attorney for the district in which the conviction sought to be expunged was obtained. Not later than 60 days after receipt of such petition, the United States Attorney may submit written recommendations to the court and notify the petitioner of that recommendation.

    `(b) Court-Ordered Expungement- The court, after consideration of evidence submitted by the petitioner in support of the petition and any evidence submitted by the Government in support of objections it may have to granting the petition, shall rule on the petition. In making that ruling the court, after determining whether the petitioner meets the eligibility requirements of this subchapter, shall weigh the interests of the petitioner against the best interests of justice and public safety.

`Sec. 3634. Effect of expungement

    `(a) In General- An order granting expungement under this subchapter shall restore the individual concerned, in the contemplation of the law, to the status such individual occupied before the arrest or institution of criminal proceedings for the crime that was the subject of the expungement.

    `(b) No Disqualification; Statements- After an order granting expungement of any individual's criminal records under this subchapter, such individual shall not be required to divulge information pertaining to the expunged conviction and the fact that such individual has been convicted of the criminal offense concerned shall not--

      `(1) operate as a disqualification of such individual to pursue or engage in any lawful activity, occupation, profession, and

      `(2) held under any provision of law guilty of perjury, false answering, or making a false statement by reason of his failure to recite or acknowledge such arrest or institution of criminal proceedings, or results thereof, in response to an inquiry made of him for any purpose.

    `(c) Records Expunged or Sealed- Upon order of expungement, all official law enforcement and court records, including all references to such person's arrest for the offense, the institution of criminal proceedings against him, and the results thereof, except publicly available court opinions or briefs on appeal, shall be expunged (in the case of nontangible records) or gathered together and sealed (in the case of tangible records).

    `(d) Record of Disposition to Be Retained- A nonpublic record of a disposition or conviction that is the subject of an expungement order shall be retained only by the Department of Justice solely for the purpose of use by the courts in any subsequent adjudication.

`Sec. 3635. Disclosure of expunged records

    `(a) Law Enforcement Purposes- The Department of Justice may maintain a nonpublic manual or computerized index of expunged records containing only the name of, and alphanumeric identifiers that relate to, the persons who are the subject of such expunged records, the word `expunged', and the name of the person, agency, office, or department that has custody of the expunged records, and shall not name the offense committed. The index shall be made available only to Federal and State law enforcement personnel who have custody of such expunged records and only for the purposes set forth in subsection (b) of this section.

    `(b) Authorized Disclosure- Such records shall be made available to the person accused or to such person's designated agent and shall be made available to--

      `(1) any prosecutor, law enforcement agency, or court which has responsibility for criminally investigating, prosecuting, or adjudicating such individual;

      `(2) any State or local office or agency with responsibility for the issuance of licenses to possess guns where the accused has made application for such license; or

      `(3) any prospective city, State, or Federal employer or agency, involved in investigating and/or prosecuting under criminal or civil statutes including employers of police or peace officers and in relation to an application for employment as an employee of a city, State, or Federal employer or agency involved in investigating or prosecuting under criminal or civil statutes including as a police officer or peace officer, and every person who is an applicant for the position of police officer, peace officer, or any other prospective city, State, or Federal employer or agency, involved in investigating or prosecuting under criminal or civil statutes shall be furnished with a copy of all records obtained under this paragraph and afforded an opportunity to make an explanation thereto.

    `(c) Punishment for Improper Disclosure- Any person who knowingly disseminates information relating to an expunged conviction other than the offender shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

`Sec. 3636. Reversal of expunged records

    `The records expunged under this subchapter shall be restored by operation of law as public records and may be used in all court proceedings if the individual whose conviction was expunged is subsequently convicted of any Federal or State offense.'.

    (b) Clerical Amendment- The table of subchapters at the beginning of chapter 229 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following item:

3631'.

    (c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this Act shall apply to individuals convicted of an offense before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act.
______________

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD
EXTENSION OF REMARKS
PAGE E257
Feb. 5, 2007


REHABILITATED, NONVIOLENT OFFENDERS NEED A SECOND CHANCE

HON. CHARLES B. RANGEL

OF NEW YORK

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Monday, February 5, 2007

    Mr. RANGEL. Madam Speaker, I rise today to bring to your attention the devastating impact of imprisonment on the lives of rehabilitated ex-offenders and to enter into the RECORD an opinion editorial in the New York Times entitled, “Closing the Revolving Door.”

    Last week I introduced the Second Chance Act which would provide for the expungement of criminal records of certain non-violent offenders who have paid their debts to society. This “second chance” would only apply to individuals who have clearly demonstrated their commitment to turning themselves into industrious members of our communities.

    It is preposterous that many states have often been forced to choose between building new prisons or new schools, because of the federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Worse still, the country has created a growing felon caste, now more than 16 million strong and growing, of felons and ex-felons, who are often driven back to prison by policies that make it impossible for them to find jobs, housing or education.

    The U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Department of Justice have both concluded that mandatory sentencing fails to deter crime. Furthermore, mandatory minimums have worsened racial and gender disparities and have contributed greatly toward prison overcrowding. Mandatory minimum sentencing is costly and unjust. Mandatory sentencing does not eliminate sentencing disparities; instead it shifts decision-making authority from judges to prosecutors, who operate without accountability. Mandatory minimums fail to punish high-level dealers. Finally, mandatory sentences are responsible for sending record numbers of women and people of color to prison.

    I urge your support for H.R. 623, the “Second Chance for Ex-Offenders Act of 2007,” which would provide for the expungement of criminal records of certain non-violent offenders who have paid their debts to society.

[From the New York Times]

CLOSING THE REVOLVING DOOR

    The United States is paying a heavy price for the mandatory sentencing fad that swept the country 30 years ago. After a tenfold increase in the nation’s prison population—and a corrections price tag that exceeds $60 billion a year—the states have often been forced to choose between building new prisons or new schools. Worse still, the country has created a growing felon caste, now more than 16 million strong, of felons and ex-felons, who are often driven back to prison by policies that make it impossible for them to find jobs, housing or education.

    Congress could begin to address this problem by passing the Second Chance Act, which would offer support services for people who are leaving prison. But it would take more than one new law to undo 30 years of damage:

    Researchers have shown that inmates who earn college degrees tend to find jobs and stay out of jail once released. Congress needs to revoke laws that bar inmates from receiving Pell grants and that bar some students with drug convictions from getting other support. Following Washington’s lead, the states have destroyed prison education programs that had long since proved their worth.

    People who leave prison without jobs or places to live are unlikely to stay out of jail. Congress should repeal the lifetime ban on providing temporary welfare benefits to people with felony drug convictions. The federal government should strengthen tax credit and bonding programs that encourage employers to hire people with criminal records. States need to stop barring ex-offenders from jobs because of unrelated crimes—or arrests in the distant past that never led to convictions.

    Congress should deny a request from the F.B.I. to begin including juvenile arrests that never led to convictions (and offenses like drunkenness or vagrancy) in the millions of rap sheets sent to employers. That would transform single indiscretions into lifetime stigmas.

    Curbing recidivism will also require doing a lot more to provide help and medication for the one out of every six inmates who suffer mental illness.

    The only real way to reduce the inmate population—and the felon class—is to ensure that imprisonment is a method of last resort. That means abandoning the mandatory sentencing laws that have filled prisons to bursting with nonviolent offenders who are doomed to remain trapped at the very margins of society.


 
Contact Congress to voice your support for this bill at:  http://www.fedcure.org/ContactCongressREP-SEN.shtml.
 

 
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