Bill Signed By Gov. Nixon Will Allow Thousands To Clean Up Their Rap Sheets

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OZARK, Mo. – Thousands of ex-convicts in Missouri may soon find it easier to get a job or apply for a loan after Gov. Nixon signed an expungement bill.

The new law takes effect in 2018 and allows most crimes other than serious felonies to be wiped from the books.

After completing their sentences, felons will be eligible to have their conviction expunged after 7 years, as opposed to the current 20 years. Misdemeanors can be expunged after 3 years as opposed to 10 years.

According to the Missouri Department of Corrections, 44 percent of people on parole were unemployed in 2015.

“I’m 48 — these 21, 22 year olds, it’s going to give them their life back,” said Convicted Felon Daryl Bertrand.

At the time Trish and Daryl Bertrand got hauled off to the Christian County jail, they were business owners and Trish had the resume and background to work in accounting. After their arrests, three employers had to break bad news to Trish.

“It was very frustrating to see her coming out in tears after being hired at these places because even the management wouldn’t do their homework and she would check the box,” Daryl Bertrand said.

The couple went from living the American dream to carrying the scarlet letter of felony convictions overnight.

It is against the law to grow marijuana for medicinal use as the Bertrand’s did to help Daryl cope with disease in his spine.

“When you make the decision to break the law, for us, it was a big decision and we never realized that we could have our entire lives ripped away just because we were trying to get him some kind of pain relief,” Trish Bertrand said.

Trish has tried her best to keep going at minimum wage jobs and has relied on family and friends for support — a felony conviction makes one ineligible for food stamps.

“I get the call probably 3-4 times a week of — hey I have something back in the 80s or 90s is there any way that I can get this expunged from my record,” said Springfield Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody. “Historically, I’ve had to say no to the vast majority of those people.”

Woody said few offenses qualified for expungement before Nixon signed this bill, and now he can help people like the Bertrands.

“This is a real problem, you know,” Trish Bertrand said. “There’s a lot of people out there that want to do better. And there’s no option for them to do better.”

It will now only be a few years, not decades until Trish Bertrand no longer has to check the box.

Under the expungement legislation, after offenses are wiped clean people will be able to check that they do not have a criminal background on employment and other types of applications and the records will be sealed from public view.

However, police and prosecutors will still have access to the records.
 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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