Reece: Bipartisan Justice Reform Measure Will Reduce Barriers To Employment
Legislation to expunge arrest records based on mistaken identity clears Ohio House
December 08, 2016
 
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State Rep. and President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) today applauded the House passage of House Bill (HB) 618, bipartisan justice reform legislation to automatically and completely expunge the criminal records of people who are arrested through a case of mistaken identification.  


“When someone is wrongfully arrested for mistaken identity, an arrest record is still created and can show up on background checks later down the line – even if the person is released as innocent that same day,” said Reece. “Innocent people should not have to face an additional barrier to employment or housing just because they fit a description and were mistakenly arrested.” 


Rep. Reece introduced HB 618, also known as the AutoErase bill, after hearing from Charles Belk, founder and executive director of Fitting the Description. Belk founded the non-profit organization to raise awareness of the frequency and impact of wrongful arrests and detainments after he was mistakenly arrested in 2014. 


“This is a good piece of legislation and a great effort towards helping to reform our criminal justice system,” said Belk. “It is truly awesome that Ohio has become the sixteenth state to consider the AutoErase legislation, and I hope it will soon join the four other states that have signed it into law.” 


Joint-sponsored by Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), HB 618 creates an automatic mechanism involving law enforcement, local prosecutors, and the court to ensure that all official records relating to a person’s apprehension, arrest, charging or trial with respect to a mistaken identity arrest be completely expunged. The bill also states that records expunged through this new mechanism may not be considered when the individual applies for employment, license, or any other right or privilege. 


“Ensuring innocent individuals are freed from any negative reputation from an undeserved criminal record will make our justice system more just,” continued Reece. “House Bill 618 is one important step toward much-needed criminal justice reform in Ohio.” 


The Cincinnati lawmaker has long been a vocal champion of criminal justice reform in Ohio. Reece and members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus have been instrumental in pushing several comprehensive justice reform measures in the state legislature. 

 
 
 
  
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