Resolution in Support of Judicial Discretion to Grant Order of Nondisclosure in Low-Level Drug Possession Cases
This Resolution recognizes the importance of adopting nondisclosure policies that enable those convicted of low-level drug possession offenses to obtain a fresh start after a reasonable period of exemplary conduct and demonstration of rehabilitation following their offense, with an appropriate level of judicial and prosecutorial involvement commensurate with the state’s current court system.
WHEREAS, At least 20 percent of all American adults have a criminal record; and
WHEREAS, those who violate the law must be held accountable and required to fully satisfy their sentence; and
WHEREAS, a criminal record presents a significant obstacle to an individual’s ability to obtain employment, housing, and education, particularly given the proliferation of mechanisms for performing far-reaching background checks; and
WHEREAS, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is committed to developing effective criminal justice policies that create safe communities for citizens as well as strong state budgets; and
WHEREAS, ALEC believes that state policies should seek to achieve the twin goals of justice and mercy;
WHEREAS, the extent to which ex-offenders are able to successfully reintegrate into society and become productive citizens has been demonstrated to be correlated with recidivism;
WHEREAS, empirical research has shown that most re-offending by those on probation occurs within the first year or two following an initial offense, after several years have passed since a person’s last offense they are very unlikely to commit another offense; and after seven years have passed since a person’s last offense they are no more likely than any person who has never offended to commit an offense;
WHEREAS, those who are convicted of a low-level drug possession offense but have a prior violent or sex felony offense should not be eligible for nondisclosure of the drug offense;
WHEREAS, nondisclosure policies successfully implemented in states such as Texas, Maryland and Indiana are supported by many law enforcement leaders, judges, and prosecutors because they enable a qualified ex-offender to have their record sealed while it still remains visible to law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors and available for use to enhance any subsequent Resolution in Support of Judicial Discretion to Grant Order of Nondisclosure in Low-Level Drug Possession Cases 2
offense, as well as being available to agencies that license occupations that substantially implicate public safety and health such as doctors and police;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that [insert state here] should adopt nondisclosure policies that enable low-level drug possession offenders to obtain a fresh start after a reasonable period of exemplary conduct, demonstrated rehabilitation, and an appropriate level of involvement by the prosecutor and judge, while ensuring access to these records for authorities and agencies with a legitimate public safety and health interest.
Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors June 29, 2015