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It’s time to change how the legal system judges people for the rest of their lives

Posted on October 23rd, 2015

A recent editorial in the New York Times discusses the important topic of criminal records and their effect on people’s ability to work and reintegrate in society. In this age of hyper vigilance and excess information, employers more and more are using background checks as an initial way of weeding out potential employees. We have gotten to a situation where any individual with a criminal background is essentially precluded from ever holding employment. This is obviously a ridiculous result. This is not limited to restrictions making sense, such as keeping dangerous people out of schools, but extends to every area and profession.

In the article, entitled “How to Get Around a Criminal Record,” the Editorial Board discusses how Federal District Court Judge John Gleeson, expunged a conviction of a woman who had been on his probation. The judge’s reasoning was that she was “a minor participant in a nonviolent crime,” stating “I sentenced her to five years’ probation supervision, not to a lifetime of unemployment.”

More people need to be aware of this problem and push for common sense legislation so that Expungements are available after convictions.

I have asked my friends in the United States Congress including Congressman Brendan Boyle, and in the Pennsylvania Legislature including State Senator Daylin Leach and House Representatives Matt Bradford and Kevin Boyle, to begin exploring legislation permitting those convicted to receive Expungements once they have demonstrated real ability to rehabilitate.

There is growing political and moral will towards a logical and reasonable approach for those convicted of crimes. Recently, Pope Francis visited the Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia and spoke of rehabilitation. We should not be judged for the rest of our life by our worst deed. This idea that people can be redeemed is built into the American Legal System. We need to restore our faith in rehabilitation. I urge you to share this article and forward it to your friends and political representatives.