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Campaign pushes for expungement process overhaul

Anyone in Virginia who has ever been arrested for a crime knows how important it is to find ways to move forward and rebuild their lives in a positive way after such an experience. Having a criminal record eliminated, or expunged as it is called, is one thing that can help to facilitate this. The Center for American Progress has initiated a campaign called Clean Slate designed to provide for a better expungement process than many people currently experience.

Unfortunately, as reported by Slate, the effort underway by the Center for American Progress may produce only limited benefits. This is because it focuses only on the actual expungement of records from the original jurisdiction or law enforcement entity involved. It does not include efforts to manage the initial dissemination of arrest or conviction data. The problem with this approach is that criminal records can be and are often shared with multiple entities and end up in multiple places online.

A person might have a criminal record officially expunged but then find out that their mug shot or other details about their arrest still show up in online searches. In essence, an expungement isn’t really an expungement anymore thanks to the internet.

Some people have even capitalized on this reality by charging fees to remove criminal data from sites. They then, however, repost the information elsewhere. In order for criminal expungements to be effective, better management over where data is sent must be achieved. Also a concern in this matter is that forcing a website to remove criminal data may be in violation of the First Amendment.