Millions of Georgians with criminal histories will now be able to get a second chance at having a clean record. Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 288 into law on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. The legislation will allow individuals to have certain misdemeanors restricted and sealed from their public criminal records, after four years with a clean record. The process is commonly referred to as expungement.
District 117 Representative Houston Gaines was cosponsor of that measure, along with Democratic Senator Tonya Anderson who carried the bill in the Senate. He says the legislation will be life-changing for those who qualify.
“I’m really excited that Senate Bill 288 has now been signed into law because this legislation, historic criminal justice reform, it’s going to make a significant impact for millions of Georgians” Gaines said.
“Providing a second chance, to get to work and to find gainful employment because oftentimes individuals that have these little minor misdemeanor convictions on their record have a hard time finding a job.”
Republican Gaines says there was widespread support for the new law.
“This is bipartisan, unanimous passage in both chambers. I was honored to carry the legislation in the house and grateful for Tonya Anderson, Democrat in the Senate and really just honored that so many people came behind, from our large employers to activist groups on both ends of the political spectrum.”
Approximately 4.3 million Georgia has a criminal record. The Peach State now joins 41 other states with similar restriction laws.
The measure also protects employers from liability. It goes into effect in January.
Sex crimes, family violence and DUIs are among the crimes that cannot be expunged under the law.