opinion Newport Rhode Island

A criminal history – even for a minor offense – can haunt a person for the rest of their life. It can result in that person being denied jobs, housing and volunteer positions at their church or their child’s school, regardless of the nature of the crime, the decades that have passed or the extent to which the person has rehabilitated.

For that reason, our state offers a legal remedy for people who have records for certain misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes: expungement. Expungement allows a person who has served their sentence, paid any related fines, and has successfully rehabilitated to have the record of that conviction sealed or erased.

The process has existed for many years, but many eligible Rhode Islanders don’t take advantage of it, largely because navigating the process can be difficult, and can be costly if executed by an attorney.

I am very pleased to partner with Attorney General Peter F. Neronha in inviting anyone who would like to find out whether they might qualify for expungement to attend an Expungement Open House in Newport next week. This free event, to be held Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Community College of Rhode Island’s Newport Campus, 1 John H. Chafee Blvd., will serve as one-stop shopping for beginning the expungement process. Attendees will be helped to evaluate their eligibility for expungement, fill out the expungement forms, and identify where to file those forms. Notary services will be available at no charge.

I urge everyone who wonders whether they qualify for expungement to participate. People who have already paid for minor crimes are not meant to serve a life sentence of disqualification for the things that allow them to create a decent life.

-Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown)