More offenders could have their criminal records expunged, under a budget provision given approval Tuesday. Governor Jim Doyle's budget would allow nonviolent offenders up to age 25 to have their records cleared after serving time. Democrats like Milwaukee Representative Pedro Colon defended the measure. Colon noted judges will have the final say. "The coke dealer will never, ever be expunged, let me tell you," Colon said. "The judge has to agree before you start serving the sentence, that you will have the right to come back and ask him or her for expungement, and the coke dealer will never, ever see expungement. If you can find that case, bring it to me, and you should hire that lawyer."
The current age limit for expungement is 21. The budget provision also allows some nonviolent felonies to be expunged. Republicans, like Racine Representative Robin Vos, were not impressed with the plan. "It's going to effect a whole lot of people the first time somebody doesn't know that their neighbor committed some of these crimes that we're going to allow them to cover up," said Vos. "Multiple offenses, multiple serious offenses. I just can't see how the public will ever support that.
The provision was approved by the Joint Committee on Finance on a 9-6 vote. Democrats, Representative Corey Mason and Senator John Lehman, both of Racine, joined Republicans in opposing it.