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Have you ever made a mistake? Sure you have. Perhaps it was minor, and it had minor consequences.
Even if your mistake was more serious, that, too, came with consequences.
Did you suffer for your mistake and pay for it by dealing with those consequences? If so, then it’s all behind you, and you should be able to move on with your life. Shouldn’t you?
That’s what some Kentucky lawmakers believe, and they will face legislation that supports that belief during the current legislative session in Frankfort.
Most notable on this issue is House Bill 72, which is sponsored by State Rep. John “Bam” Carney, R-Campbellsville. The bill makes it easier for a person convicted of a Class D felony to have his record expunged, similar to the process for those convicted of misdemeanors, and get on with their life.
Carney, who says he has long opposed the bill, is now among its sponsors. Why? Carney says he has been contacted by constituents who have offenses in their past and paid their debt to society, but continue to be punished, especially when they try to get a job in today’s tough economy and increasingly competitive job market.
The idea behind our justice system is that a person is convicted of a crime and is sentenced to a punishment. That is the debt this person owes for the mistake he made. The idea behind a debt is that once it is paid, it is forgiven.
Such is not the case for thousands of Kentuckians though, who were convicted and sentenced for relatively minor crimes.
For them, once they pay their debt and are ready to rejoin society, that mistake follows them in many ways, most notably when applying for a job.
It is a standard question on most employment forms: Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
While the forms often state that answering “yes” doesn’t automatically disqualify a candidate, it is a mark against an applicant that often will ensure he or she won’t even get interviewed.
Some may not agree with Carney’s stance, but we feel he is doing what he was elected to do, and that is represent the people he serves.