ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Minnesota's willingness to forgive people with criminal pasts is emerging as a hot topic for state legislators, who previewed a proposal Monday that would give low-level offenders a clean slate more quickly and for a more clearly defined set of offenses.
But a special House-Senate working group, which released its draft legislation, didn't reach consensus on which crimes should be eligible in a revised expungement process and whether the underlying records would truly get wiped away. Expungement orders are designed to seal records from arrests, prosecutions and convictions for people who demonstrate years of changed behavior after completing punishment.
The discussion is driven in part by two Minnesota Supreme Court rulings last spring that narrowed the judicial branch's ability in those petitions to classify all records associated with a crime. And it is also spurred on by arguments that long-ago infractions shouldn't impair employment and housing searches for years to come.
Andrea Palumbo, a private attorney who has represented people seeking expungements, told the panel that the bill offers hope to people seeking to start fresh on an equal footing.
"In so many instances, my clients look far worse on paper than they actually are," she said.