Proposed legislation aims to seal certain criminal records

Two Ohio Republican lawmakers are proposing a measure to simplify the process of sealing criminal records, with the aim of boosting workforce participation in the state.

The plan, known as the Getting Rehabilitated Ohioans Working or Grow Act, has the potential to not only reduce revictimization but also foster safer and healthier communities and families, according to its sponsors.

According to Representative Brett Hillyer from Uhrichsville, it is our duty to both hold Ohioans accountable for their actions and provide them with the necessary resources and support for redemption. He believes that the Grow Act presents an opportunity for rehabilitated individuals in Ohio to have a second chance at success and thrive within the state.

The proposed legislation aims to establish specific criteria for sealing records once individuals have successfully rehabilitated themselves and maintained a crime-free lifestyle for a certain period of time. It also ensures that prosecutors have a say in the process of record sealing.

Sealing a record, according to proponents, serves two important purposes. First, it creates employment opportunities for individuals with criminal records, allowing them to reintegrate into society and contribute positively to the workforce. Second, it protects employers from potential penalties for hiring rehabilitated individuals, ensuring that they are not unfairly discriminated against based on their past mistakes.

The Conservative Political Action Conference, The Buckeye Institute, and the TAP Foundation all praised the proposal.

“The Ohio Grow Act presents a remarkable opportunity for policymakers in Columbus to maintain their leadership in implementing robust and conservative measures that will facilitate the return of Ohioans to the workforce,” expressed David Safavian, CPAC’s senior vice president and general counsel. He further emphasized, “We are keenly aware that a prior criminal record acts as a burden on individuals who have successfully moved away from a life of crime, depriving them and their families of prospects for meaningful employment, secure housing, and financial stability. Research has also shown that individuals who have remained crime-free for five years are highly unlikely to engage in criminal activities again.”

The Buckeye Institute, a policy group based in Columbus, has been advocating for several years to create pathways that facilitate the reintegration of convicts into the workforce in Ohio.

According to Robert Alt, president and CEO of The Buckeye Institute, the organization has always been a proponent of rational and intelligent criminal justice policies in Ohio. These policies aim to strike a balance between ensuring public safety and providing opportunities for individuals who have served their sentences to reintegrate into society. Alt believes that the Grow Act is a crucial step in the right direction as it simplifies the process for rehabilitated Ohioans to regain their dignity and, most importantly, find employment. He emphasizes that employment is crucial in preventing relapse into criminal behavior. Additionally, Alt highlights that this reform will not only benefit individuals but also contribute to the overall improvement of Ohio’s economy, especially considering the abundance of job openings in the state.

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