"If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."

Shirley Chisholm

 

The Problem

"Just one bite at the apple"

Background: In 2018 the Massachusetts Legislature passed criminal justice reform legislation that included a new youth expungement statute (up to age 21) to allow for the complete erasing of a criminal record. The statute is a good first step, but is severely limited and has not had the intended impact to provide young people with a second chance as it is extremely exclusive. As the legislature now looks to address racial justice and racial inequities, a large coalition - led by young people - asks that you make amending the expungement statute a priority.

The problem: None of the young people who advocated for an expungement law yet benefit since the law is so exclusive. 

 

  • The law only allows for expungement if you only have one charge on your record. In other words, you get just "one bite at the apple." 

  • The law automatically disqualifies over 150 charges.

  • The law makes no distinction between a charge for a dismissed case and a conviction.

 

All three have disproportionate impact on black and brown youth.

CLICK HERE to advocate for an amendment to the Massachusetts expungement law

 

The solution: Let's amend the expungement law applying our understanding of young adult recidivism rates (young adults have a 76% recidivism rate over three years), cognitive brain development (people are more risk averse before their mid-twenties), and the seven year expiration of a criminal record's effectiveness as a tool for public safety.

 

We respectfully ask for an amendment that will:

  • Allow for multiple offenses to be expunged (prior to age 21).

  • Remove the list of 150+ charges that automatically disqualify and let the judge decide. Charges don't reflect the reality of an individual's character, guilt, likelihood of future risk, or ability to contribute to society in a positive way. Instead we should allow for judicial discretion. Since the 7 year felony and 3 year misdemeanor wait periods only begin at the end of one's sentence, the most severe charges like murder and aggravated rape which come with life sentences will never be eligible.

  • Differentiate between convictions and dismissed cases. Not all charges are equal.

The Solution

CLICK HERE

to advocate for an amendment to the Massachusetts expungement law

 

"If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."

Shirley Chisholm

Join the Movement

This is a statewide youth-led coalition focused on long-lasting change through policy-making. For more information please contact our program staff at gfoster@utecinc.org.