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Bipartisan Proposal Would Give Some Former Idaho Inmates A 'Clean Slate'

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Democrats and Republicans are coming together at the Idaho statehouse to address criminal justice reform with proposed legislation that would allow certain folks to get their record sealed.

If passed, the new measure would be applicable for folks who have: committed non-violent, non-sexual offenses, completed their sentences including probation and parole, and who have gone at least three years without re-offending.

State Senator Dave Lent (R-Idaho Falls) and House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) joined Idaho Matters to talk about the so-called “clean slate” proposal they are co-sponsoring. 

"We hope [this proposal] will have a transformative effect on these peoples' lives," said House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Boise). 

"We hope [this proposal] will have a transformative effect on these peoples' lives." - Rep. Ilana Rubel

Most other states have some sort of law that allows adults to seal their criminal records by following certain criteria. Rubel said that often, the time an individual serves in prison is the least of their worries. She said some people struggle to get jobs, scholarships, housing, or certain degrees because of their criminal background. Rubel said these are some of the “collateral consequences” that follow these folks around for the rest of their lives. 

Republican lawmaker Lent is co-sponsoring the legislation on the Senate side of the statehouse. He said he decided to try and change the law in part because of stories from his own family dealing with the longterm effects of a criminal record. 

"I started to see the struggle that they were having when it came to getting important jobs for them to progress in their life and in their careers and they were being held back," said Lent. 

When it comes to Idaho's high recidivism rate, Rubel said this measure would help alleviate that problem. 

"Poverty, low-income, unemployement and homelessness are all serious drivers of future crime activity. So it's actually very beneficial, and you can get down your recidivism rates if you provide an opportunity to have a home and a job that actually pays reasonably."

She points to a study in Michigan that showed improvement in recitivism after that state made a simlar change to their law. The proposal has yet to be introduced at the legislature but Rubel is hopeful that the process will begin moving soon. 

Have a question or comment for the show? Tweet @KBSX915 using #IdahoMatters

 

Gemma is the host of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show which broadcasts live Monday-Friday at noon. She is an award-winning journalist and has spent the majority of her broadcasting career in Idaho. Gemma was a television news anchor and reporter in Boise for close to 15 years. She came to Boise in 1999 to start Fox 12.