Eye On Boise

Hart withdraws expungement bill

Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, has withdrawn his legislation to allow people to get their criminal records expunged if they're not convicted, including records of trials and arrests. Emboldened by support for the concept among House members, he's working on a farther-reaching bill to propose next year. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, has withdrawn his legislation to allow people to get their criminal records expunged if they're not convicted, including records of trials and arrests. Emboldened by support for the concept among House members, he's working on a farther-reaching bill to propose next year. (Betsy Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

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 Phil Hart, R-Athol, has withdrawn his bill to allow people to ask a judge to expunge all their criminal records if they're not convicted, including records of trials and arrests.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.




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