Drug convicts may soon seek expungements

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The Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday to help convicted drug criminals expunge their records, and make it easier for them to obtain jobs.

However, HB33 was amended in the Senate, so it returns to the House —¬†which earlier this month also unanimously passed the bill.

The bill changes the law so that when the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole issues a pardon, it also expunges the record of someone convicted of drug crimes, the same as an expungement issued by a court.

While police could still see a person's criminal history, people receiving an expungement/pardon could tell a potential employer that they have not been convicted of a crime. Several lawmakers nicknamed it the "Jean Valjean" bill, after the main character in Les Miserables, who went to prison for stealing bread and found it nearly impossible to rebuild his life as long as he was a known convict.

Such expungements would be available only for those found to be free of illegal substance abuse and successfully managing any addiction. The bill does not allow expungement for people who have three or more felony drug convictions, or five or more overall drug possession convictions.

Lee Davidson