New SC expungement law set to give offenders a better chance to enter workforce

New SC expungement law set to give offenders a better chance to enter workforce
Published: Jul. 19, 2018 at 9:53 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2018 at 11:05 AM EDT
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(WIS) - A new law aims to make job searching easier for those who committed "low level" crimes.

The law is an expansion of the former South Carolina expungement law, with the goal of bolstering the workforce in South Carolina.

The current law permits someone to expunge a first-offense, low-level crime carrying a sentence of 30 days or less from their record following a period of good behavior.

The new law removes the "first-offense" requirement and also allows those to erase multiple convictions out of the same sentencing hearing if they are "closely connected."

The bill was originally vetoed by Governor Henry McMaster on May 19, 2018.

McMaster said he was unwilling to sign legislation that would erase large categories of criminal records and telling employers what they can and cannot consider when making hiring decisions.

Both houses of the General Assembly, however, overrode Governor McMaster's veto and passed the legislation on June 27, 2018.

Those who support it say this gives offenders a better chance of reentering the work force because ex-offenders wouldn't be required to disclose expunged crimes.

The goal is for employers to consider their skills and qualifications without being swayed by the stigma of a criminal record.

Ben Dudek is an attorney with Fisher Phillips, a firm that practices employment and labor law.

"The new law significantly also expands the types of convictions that can be expunged to include first offense, simple drug possession, and first offense possession with intent to distribute drug crimes after a period of good behavior," Dudek said.

The law also says that if employers somehow become aware of an expunged offense once an ex-offender has been hired, they can't use that information against the employee.

David Hudson, who recently has been released from serving time said "The hardest part about it all is the record cause people want to know ok well if you're an ex-felon, what's your record been like? The record pretty much stagnates us to getting a job and that's really the hardest part with us because they look at us like oh well he's a felon and he's got this charge and they say he might do this again, not looking at the good and potential that we might have after we got released."

It's unclear if Hudson's charges are eligible for expungement.

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