Bill Would Allow Expungement of Minor Infractions to be Concealed so as not to Hinder an Otherwise Qualified Candidate’s Hiring Chances
By a vote of 49-28, the full Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly to establish a pilot program in Paterson to conceal certain expungement records for minor infractions that may hinder residents from obtaining employment in the judicial or law enforcement system.
“We have to begin creating opportunities for our youth instead of building brick walls in between them and their dreams,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “If pursuing a career in law enforcement or in the court system is their goal but they have relatively minor infractions and have proven themselves on the right path, then, yes, they should be considered for positions open in the field.”
The bill (A-1881) would establish a five-year pilot program for the City of Paterson concerning the disclosure and application of expunged records and information for individuals seeking employment within its municipal court system or any of its law enforcement or corrections agencies.
Specifically, for five years, the provisions under current law that require that a person seeking employment within Paterson’s municipal court system or law enforcement or corrections agencies disclose expunged records and information, and requiring that those expunged materials continue to provide a disability notwithstanding the expungement, would only apply to records and information related to a person’s conviction for an indictable offense (a crime of the fourth degree or higher).
However, the provisions would not apply to a person seeking employment within the municipal court system as a court director, court deputy, or court administrator.
“This pilot program would give us the opportunity to determine if our current expungement law prevents too many individuals of good or reformed character, who are otherwise well-qualified, from obtaining employment in the judicial branch or with law enforcement or corrections agencies,” added Wimberly. “Depending upon the results, changing the expungement disclosure requirements could be expanded beyond the scope of the pilot program and perhaps apply permanently and statewide.”
Additionally, the provisions would not apply to records and information: (1) related to a person’s arrest or charge for a crime, offense, or violation of a municipal ordinance not resulting in a conviction or finding of guilt; or (2) related to a person’s conviction or finding guilt of guilt for a disorderly person’s offense, or violation of a municipal ordinance.
At the conclusion of the five-year-period, the City of Paterson would submit a report to the governor and the legislature on the implementation of the pilot program, which would include a recommendation on the advisability of the continuation, modification, expansion, or termination of the program.
The legislation now awaits consideration by the Senate.