Bill Making Expungement Process Easier Heading to Gov. Stitt’s Desk
KOKH - May 2, 2022 6:08 am
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — House Bill 3316 will now head to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk, after being passed by legislators last week. The bill will automate the expungement of old criminal records for thousands of Oklahomans.
The bill was authored by Rep. Nichole Miller and Sen. Adam Pugh.
Oklahoma Director of Right on Crime Marilyn Davidson is very grateful lawmakers have stood behind this bill.
“We have an opportunity with a group that wants to donate this computer system that could that would potentially cost the state a million dollars, but they’re giving it to us for free at a time that we’re also updating our OSBI system. They realized that we’re not going to get a better shot in this and they committed to making sure that the funds were there, and that OSBI was taking care of,” Davidson said.
Currently in Oklahoma 93% of individuals who are eligible for expungement do not obtain relief. House Bill 3316 hopes to change that, using modern technology to automate the expungement process.
“Right now we have a very long paper process, where you have to actually hire an attorney to help you walk through the entire thing. We have an outside nonprofit group who has actually created a program that can do all this electronically and then customize that program to Oklahoma and our statutes, and that program will be housed in OSBI,” said Davidson.
The new system will scan information in the court database to see who qualifies for expungement, complete background checks, and notify law enforcement.
“It really takes a lot of that paper out of it and the long tedious process,” Davidson said.
This will save people who qualify lots of time, but also money.
“Just not having to hire an attorney is going to save individuals a lot of money,” Davidson said. “There’s some other filing fees that are associated with it as well. And so by taking that cost out of it, it opens it up and makes it more excessive or more accessible.”
House Bill 3316 is making its way to Stitt’s desk as hundreds of Oklahomans attended the Second Chance Walk on Saturday.
“It just brings awareness to all the barriers that people face once they’re released from prison. And so we’re just here to support that,” said Oklahoma Field Director of Prison Fellowship, Teresa Stanfield.
People walked to empower those looking for a second chance.
“Being in and out of jail for 25 years, being in the sex industry for 28 years, and now myself having a second chance and so being out here to walk for the other people that are coming behind us that there’s hope and there is life after addiction and there is life after incarceration,” said Sharee Land, a Volunteer for Prison Fellowship.
Right on Crimes estimates the new expungement system will help thousands of Oklahomans, but the system DOES NOT change who is eligible for expungement.