By Lee Hedgepeth
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama Senate passed a bill allowing for the expungement of arrest record when the charges were dropped or the person was found not guilty. The bill was introduced by Democrat Roger Bedford, who says that the law fixes significant problems for Alabamians.
“That’s the problem,” he told APR, “is that they ask if you’re convicted, and [even if its a traffic crime] you have to say yes.” He also says that the law would fix situations where for example, marijuana is found in a car full of people and all are charged. Although eventually one person is likely to claim the drugs, and charges on the other individuals are dropped, there is no way to get that off their record, and that could lead to employment problems down the road. “Employers could pick that type of thing up.”
Despite his touting that he had gotten approval from state District Attorney’s and other organizations, Senator Roger Bedford was not able to pass his bill in its original form.
Several Republican amendments significantly changed the scope and administration of the bill. While most amendments were considered “friendly,” and acquiesced to by the sponsor, Bedford took particular distaste in one amendment. Senator Bryan Taylor proffered an amendment, which eventually did pass, that prevents anyone who has ever been charged with a violent crime from gaining expungement. It would apply to cases where charges where dropped as well as cases where the accused was found not guilty.
The bill had been carried over by the body earlier in the week when several technical amendments had been added. Senator Del Marsh said that he would be “glad to bring it back up,” but that Senators should have time to study the amendments. He kept his work. Once the bill passed, Senator Bedford took a point of personal privilege in which he expressed his gratitude for his colleagues’ willingness to work together on the bill, and calling for that to be the tone of the rest of the legislative session. That is yet to be seen.
Both the Senate and House will convene again on Tuesday, January 28th.
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