This editorial ran in Saturday's Rocky Mountain News.
The Rocky Mountain News comes out against record sealing bill...
"Should someone who commits a crime be able to conceal the conviction from the public after maintaining a clean record for 10 years after completing the sentence and any additional restrictions? Or should the public's right to see that record - an essential principle of open government and accountability - be preserved? This is what the debate over House Bill 1082 is all about.
Proponents of HB 1082 argue that those who make one serious mistake in life deserve a second chance. They hold up as examples some now-respectable citizens who, they say, remain haunted decades later by a single conviction, particularly when seeking employment or housing. They point out that a person's history is easy to dredge up in today's Information Age.
We applaud second chances, too. And we'll concede that personal information is infinitely easier to access than ever before. But we also believe that actions have consequences, even though, in most cases, those consequences should diminish over time - and almost always do. People rarely judge someone with a single old conviction for possession of illegal drugs the same as they do someone convicted of the same offense last week.
HB 1082 is the reincarnation of last year's House Bill 1107, which Gov. Bill Ritter vetoed. This year's version includes amendments made to the 2007 bill as well as additional revisions negotiated this week with the governor in the hope of gaining his signature this time around.
A hearing on the latest version is scheduled for Tuesday. The bill would allow Class 5 and 6 drug felonies (possession offenses) to be sealed after the waiting period, and many misdemeanor offenses, excluding the most serious, such as those involving child abuse. It also requires district attorney approval and court review before a request to have a conviction sealed can be granted.
Without doubt the bill is better than last year's. However, no amount of tweaking will alter the reality that it will conceal once-public records - and through a process that will inevitably favor the well-heeled and well-connected.
Given the bargaining that has occurred, it appears likely the governor will sign this bill into law if it passes. Even so, we will always feel he was right the first time about the wisdom of sealing records."
If you feel strongly about getting this legislation passed, please write a letter to the editor in support of the record sealing bill.
Shorter letters are considered first for print publication and edited least.
Submissions must include writer’s name, address and daytime phone number.
Letters must be original, not copied from another source.
Letters to the Editor
Rocky Mountain News
101 W. Colfax Ave., Suite 500,
Denver, CO 80202
It is vitally important that legislators hear from you on the importance and impact of
HB 1082 passed out of the House Judiciary today and is headed to Appropriations.
law does not allow a person with a criminal conviction to seal their record – regardless of the nature of the criminal conviction, the length of time since the conviction, or evidence of rehabilitation. Last year, a similar record sealing bill (HB 07-1107) was passed by the House and Senate but vetoed by Governor Ritter. Governor Ritter has indicated that he does not object to the bill in concept but wants to have more crimes excluded from eligibility for sealing. The bill sponsor is in continued negotiations with the Governor's office. Colorado
Summary: This bill would allow people convicted of select crimes to petition the Court to seal a criminal record for only lower level drug possession crimes and some misdemeanors after they completed their sentence and been offense free for 10 years.
· The Court does not have to order the sealing. The Court is required to balance the privacy rights of the petitioner against the public’s right to know on a case by case basis.
· For offenses committed before
July 1, 2008, the District Attorney will have to agree before the Court can order the record sealed.
· Law enforcement will always have access to any sealed record.
· Third parties may petition the Court to unseal a record and the names of all people petitioning the court to seal a criminal record will be posted on the judicial website for 30 days.
· The petitioner must have paid all of the fines, fees, costs and restitution ordered in the criminal case. The petitioner will also pay a filing fee that is sufficient to cover the cost of the proceeding.