April 2, 2024

Cincinnati’s city council will consider a proposal to expunge certain criminal records. Former City Council member Tamaya Dennard suggested the proposal, hoping to help individuals with criminal records better reintegrate into society.

This proposal would address expungement for records concerning specific city ordinance violations. Council Member Denard also has a criminal record, accepting money for votes and facing arrest in 2020. She served time in prison for the offense and worked as the Center for Employment Opportunities director. This center is an agency that helps people with convictions find jobs. Since then, she commented on how she had the opportunity to re-enter society and acquire a successful career after returning.

As such, Council Member Denard questioned why others could not have similar success. She presented the proposal to the Law and Governance Committee, hoping to help individuals with low-level crimes on their records. If enacted, it would change how Cincinnati treats people with criminal backgrounds. For example, it would automatically expunge warrants and court no-shows after seven years have passed. It would also repeal mandatory sentencing for some convictions. Finally, she hopes it would end Cincinnati’s policy of not hiring individuals for five years after a conviction.

One of the council members, Scotty Johnson, supported studying the expungement plan’s viability. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of helping people trying to reintegrate into society. Prosecutor Melissa Powers also expressed support for the proposal. She voiced interest in developing these policies. Furthermore, she approved giving individuals second chances and the chance to be productive community members.

However, some have voiced disapproval of the proposal. Those disapproving of it believe that leniency on criminal records may reduce punishment’s deterrent effect. In response to this argument, Council Member Dennard stated that losing the ability to obtain housing or a job is already a punishment. As such, she feels it becomes a question of how much punishment individuals should get.

In one response to the “Part of deterrence is punishment” claim, Council member Dennard replied, “Is it punished to no end? Or at what point do you show mercy and say, ‘Okay, you suffered enough…'”

Enacting this proposal could help many individuals with eligible criminal records. The most significant aid comes from automatically expunging these records. This change would open more opportunities for jobs and housing for many individuals. It would also improve the ability of people with criminal records to get a job with the city by no longer refusing to hire them for five years after a conviction.

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.