Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, has withdrawn his bill to allow people to ask a judge to expunge all their criminal records if they’re not convicted, including records of trials and arrests. Hart said he was encouraged by the defeat last week of HB 71, a measure from the Idaho Attorney General’s office to clarify that when a defendant has completed terms of probation and is discharged, that doesn’t mean the defendant’s criminal records are expunged. Hart argued against the bill, which died by one vote, 33-34, on the House floor last Thursday. “I think it kinda ripens up the issue,” Hart said, to the point that he’s now looking into a broader bill than the one he proposed earlier, HB 183. “That is really the low-hanging fruit,” Hart said. “I think we need an expungement policy in this state that’s broader.” He plans to meet with other legislators and law enforcement representatives to talk about a possible proposal for next year’s legislative session.
Hart said, “Once you’ve gotten into the machinery of the corrections department or the courts, that stays with you your whole life. … This comes up and you’ve got to explain it every time.” He said he’s troubled by the nation’s high incarceration rate, which a Kings College London study showed is the highest in the world. “I just think it’s bad public policy,” Hart said.