State must reform expungement law -- Jill Kastner

State must reform expungement law -- Jill Kastner

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Wisconsin citizens who have committed one-time, nonviolent offenses continue to face major barriers to employment long after they serve their sentence.

At a time when employers have difficulty filling positions, Wisconsin would greatly benefit from reform to its outdated expungement law so that more Wisconsin citizens can get back to work.

Research shows that consequences of a criminal record can be a lifelong barrier to success. Those swept up in the opioid epidemic, other drug addiction or just bad choices in their youth, often have convictions such as possession and retail theft that preclude them from many jobs and professions. Expungement reform will give rehabilitated, nonviolent offenders an opportunity for a fresh start, alleviate workforce shortages, and prevent re-offending.

The State Bar of Wisconsin represents our state’s legal profession and advocates for access to justice for all citizens. We believe it is time to reform Wisconsin’s narrow expungement law to remove unnecessary burdens from those who paid their debts to society.

A bill to reform expungement passed the Assembly last year but awaits action in our state Senate. I encourage readers to contact their state senator and ask them to pass this important legislation.

Jill Kastner, Madison, president, State Bar of Wisconsin

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