New law reduces costs of wiping criminal records

TSD Newsroom | 6/2/2017, 10:29 a.m.
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law a bill that will make it easier for people convicted of mostly low-level ...
Rep. Raumesh Akbari

Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law a bill that will make it easier for people convicted of mostly low-level offenses to get their criminal records wiped clean.

The law reduces the costs of expunging criminal record convictions from $350 to $180, making it more affordable. That figure does not include any court costs or clerk fees that may be involved.

The bipartisan measure was championed by two Shelby County lawmakers in an effort to help non-violent offenders who have turned their lives around. The measure, which was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Raumesh Akbari (District 91) and Republican Sen. Mark Norris (District 32) of Collierville, takes effect immediately.

After the signing, Akbari said, “The bottom line is this – we believe that people should not be judged for the rest of their lives for the decisions they make on their worst day.

“By reducing part of the financial barrier to expunction, more ex-offenders will be able to get their lives back on track; reducing the recidivism rate and strengthening our communities.”

The bill is part of a criminal justice reform package spearheaded by the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, which Akbari chairs.

Akbari also passed two other expunction bills. One makes it easier for juveniles to get criminal records expunged. The second allows a person who has two convictions to get a one-time expunction of both.

(This story includes report by the Associated Press.)