A recent study found that one in four Americans has a criminal record which can be a big issue for many people as a criminal record carries around a stigma that can be a big obstacle to housing and employment. Currently, Texas is looking to make it easier for one-time offenders to lead a normal life by introducing Senate Bill 1902 by state Senator Charles Perry, R-Lubbock.
The bill is looking to give a second chance to certain individuals with isolated criminal convictions by expanding on who’s eligible for a order of nondisclosure. Bill 1902 will look to help one-time offenders who who complete their jail or probation term and don’t commit another violent or sexual crime have their criminal records automatically sealed and unsearchable by the general public.
While the records would be unavailable to the general public, certain law enforcement agencies would have access to the sealed criminal records as well as financial, healthcare and educational agencies.
Even so, there are some lawmakers who believe that the bill could prove worrisome as it would prevent employers and landlords from screening potential candidates.
The bill comes at a time when many states and large businesses are enacting “Ban the Box” legislation. The goal of the movement is to get employers to remove the initial checkbox question on their employment applications which asks whether a candidate has been convicted of a crime.
Bill 1902 passed with a vote of 25 to 6 and is now headed to the House.