Coalition urges passage of expungement bill

Conservative organizations, business groups support commonsense reforms

June 3, 2021 — We urge the Wisconsin Legislature to pass Senate Bill 78/Assembly Bill 69, which would make smart, meaningful, commonsense reforms to Wisconsin’s expungement law.

The legislation would allow judges to grant an expungement after a sentence is served rather than at the time of sentencing – a change that 75% of Wisconsinites support, according to a recent poll. This would give judges more information and would incentivize good behavior among individuals convicted of a crime.

It would also remove the arbitrary 25-year-old age limit. The bill does not expand the crimes that would be eligible for an expungement, and it retains judicial discretion – an important aspect of the current law.

While these changes are modest, the impact they could have on Wisconsinites looking for a second chance is not. We believe this bill breaks down barriers for those most deserving of a second chance who have already paid their debt to society. A non-violent conviction should not hold Wisconsinites back from achieving their full potential and becoming contributing members of their community.

Often referred to as the “Pathways to Employment” bill, we believe this legislation would do just that: provide Wisconsinites who committed a one-time, low-level, non-violent offense with an opportunity for a second chance. This bill would break down barriers for those with a criminal record, making it easier for them to secure housing, employment, and certain licenses.

When people with criminal records succeed – especially through meaningful employment – our entire state benefits, and our communities are safer. Securing a job is one of the best indicators that someone will not return to prison and not commit another offense, outcomes we believe all Wisconsinites should support.

We fully support this bipartisan legislation, and we urge the Legislature to pass the Pathways to Employment bill.

Steve Baas, CCE, IOM
Senior Vice President - Governmental Affairs & Public Policy
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce

Eric Bott
State Director
Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin

Jenna Bottler
Deputy Director
Justice Action Network

Scott Manley
Executive Vice President of Government Relations
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

Mike Nichols
Badger Institute

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Amanda Payne
Senior Vice President, Public Policy
Waukesha County Business Alliance

Sam Rogers
Coalitions Director
Concerned Veterans for America