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Vt. bill expanding expungements for old crimes moves forward

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 5:01 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s top prosecutor is backing a bill that would help people convicted of some crimes clear their records.

The bill would make it easier for Vermonters who have committed certain crimes-- and served their court-appointed punishment-- to get those removed from their records.

It passed the House last year and is expected to pass in the Senate.

The bill would expand which crimes are eligible for expungement under Vermont law.

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan says it would include all crimes except what are called “listed” crimes. So it would include things like grand larceny or burglary of an unoccupied dwelling. But it would not include offenses like sexual assault, murder, robbery or domestic violence.

Donovan says it would help people move on from past mistakes.

“When we talk about expunging old criminal records, what we’re talking about is a jobs bill. What we’re talking about is an economic development bill. What we’re talking about is the opportunity to become good, productive, law-abiding citizens because a good job is the best form of public safety. The reality is this-- old criminal convictions keep people from getting jobs,” said Donovan, D-Vt. Attorney General.

Critics say the bill lets people off the hook and may allow repeat offenders to victimize people.

Donovan says that’s why it goes before a judge to review and why it stays on their records for five years before it’s eligible for expungement.

Watch the video for our Cat Viglienzoni’s full interview with T.J. Donovan.

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