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At long last, “second chance” legislation heads toward final approval

It’s taken much longer than it should have, but it appears that a bipartisan criminal justice bill (emphasis on the word “justice”) with broad support from across the political spectrum (Senate Bill 562) is nearing final passage in Raleigh.

This is from a summary provided by supporters of the bill (which include everyone from the far right Americans for Prosperity to the North Carolina Justice Center – the parent organization of NC Policy Watch):

The Second Chance Act is a bipartisan “clean slate” bill that automatically expunges criminal charges that are dismissed or disposed “not guilty” after July 1, 2020, and allows individuals to petition for expungement of all nonviolent misdemeanor convictions after 7 years of good behavior. The definitions of “nonviolent misdemeanor” and “nonviolent felony” are not changed by this bill. Expunged criminal records are not available to the public, but expunged dismissals and convictions can still be accessed by district attorneys and considered by courts for sentencing if the person re-offends.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously more than a year ago, but has remained stuck in the House for mysterious reasons (rumor had it that Speaker Tim Moore was the roadblock) until it was finally brought back to life this week and passed by the House 119-0 yesterday afternoon.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence in minor House amendments. One never can say anything for sure about the process in the always opaque world on Jones Street, but there seems reason to hope that the measure could be on its way to Gov. Cooper for a rare and happy bipartisan signing ceremony as early as next week.

Fingers crossed.

Click here to learn more about the bill.

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