Advocates press D.C. Council to restrict access to some court records

Former prisoners joined with advocates of criminal justice reform Thursday to back three D.C. Council bills that would make it easier for people arrested by police to shield their court records from the public.

The proposed legislation would automatically seal some court records of people who have been arrested but were never charged or convicted of a crime. It also would allow people to shield public records of many misdemeanor and some felony convictions to make it easier for them to obtain jobs, housing and loans.

Kevin Petty testified at a hearing of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety in the John A. Wilson Building that a felony conviction in 1978, for which he served prison time, continues to impair his ability to find employment.

He asked council members for what he called “an authentic second chance” and said there is no reason for his decades-old record to be publicly available today. “Why should this continue to hang around my neck?” he said, noting he is a productive resident of the District. Read more…