Our Views: Affordable expungements fit the spirit of criminal justice reform
A criminal record clean slate is expensive in Louisiana, but a new lawsuit aims to change that.
"The suit, filed in December by the advocacy groups The First 72+ and Equal Justice Under Law on behalf of three Louisiana residents, argues that these fees should be waived for people who qualify for expungements but can’t afford to pay for them. Expungements are generally available to people with arrests that didn’t result in convictions, and those with misdemeanor convictions dating back five years and some nonviolent felony convictions that are at least 10 years old. The costs can rise quickly because the $550 just covers each individual contact with the justice system. For the suit’s plaintiffs, the cost of clearing their records would range from $2,200 to $4,950.
“Poor Louisianans face a terrible Catch-22; they cannot afford to expunge their records because they cannot obtain stable, well-paying employment, and but they cannot obtain stable, well-paying employment because of their criminal records,” the suit says."
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