Missouri Considers Sealing Criminal Records

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is considering whether to sign a bill that would allow individuals with criminal convictions to have their records sealed if they are not convicted of another crime for a certain number of years after completion of their sentence or rehabilitation.

The bill would allow for prosecutors and law enforcement officials to access the records, but would be sealed to others performing public record searches. 

"It's designed to  give credit to those...who made mistakes in their lives but who paid their debt to society and have turned their lives around," said Republican State Representative Jay Barnes.

The bill is being lauded as an opportunity to improve employment prospects for those with criminal histories. Head of the Missouri State Public Defender System, Michael Barrett, said "I can't think of a single initiative that will do more to improve public safety, help the economy and reduce the reliance on public benefits." Barrett indicates that unemployment is a major factor prior offenders re-offend.

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