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New study in favor of expungement

College students are generally not minors when they head of to IU or another school. This, of course, does not mean that they will always act like a grown human being who makes judicious decisions. This is particularly the case for those living away from home for the first time.

This means that they may run afoul of the campus police or local law enforce for doing something they normally would not do, take a drug they normally would not take or drive under the influence.

Ideally, these charges are not serious and caused no harm. The charge may even provide a wake-up call to the student that tells them they are in the real world with real-world consequences. Unfortunately, one poor choice can haunt a young adult for years or decades afterward. A criminal record can be a barrier to employment, housing or even college grants or post-graduate education.

A new study on expungement

Now two University of Michigan Law Professors have published a groundbreaking study on the recent emergence and benefits of expungement. Indiana is one of 36 states that allow expungement, but these laws tend to mostly be limited in scope, tied to the type of crime and a long gap where there are no further convictions. People can then embark on a process to have their record expunged.

Critics claim that it is in the interest of public safety to know if someone broke the law, but there are a lot of benefits supporting expungement. According to an op-ed piece in the New York Times by the same professors, the benefits published in their study include:

  • People who get expungements' wages go up more than 20 percent within a year, on average.
  • People who get expungement show a very low (lower than the average adult) tendency to break the law again.
  • Expungement reduces recidivism, which is a drain on the tax payer's money.

The bad news in the study is that few people with criminal records try to get expungements. In Michigan, where the study was conducted, the state only grants about 2,500 expungements per year. This number is well below 1 percent of the total crimes convicted in the state. The overwhelming reason why the number is so low is that people who qualify do not even try.

Why wouldn't a person apply?

Those students who have been convicted and their families may want to consider an expungement as the college graduate enters the job market. The best place to start the process is to speak with an attorney who has experience handling these types of matters here in Bloomington or the surrounding communities.

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