Pubdate: Mon, 28 Sep 2015
Source: Boston Herald (MA)
Copyright: 2015 The Boston Herald, Inc
Note: Prints only very short LTEs.


The state Senate has taken reasonable steps to smooth the path for 
ex-cons who are making the transition back to life in the community. 
But senators left a few loose ends that the House should tie up.

The bill that passed unanimously in the Senate on Thursday repeals 
the state law that imposes an automatic license suspension on 
individuals who are convicted of drug crimes, even if the crime had 
nothing to do with operating a motor vehicle. Critics of the law have 
argued the automatic suspension - and the high cost of license 
reinstatement - is an unreasonable obstacle to individuals trying to 
get their lives back together. Thirty-four other states have repealed 
their own versions of the law.

But senators, in their haste, painted with too broad a brush. Because 
the bill also calls for essentially whitewashing state Registry of 
Motor Vehicle records to make past drug-conviction related 
suspensions disappear from public view.

The bill would also allow a person whose license is suspended as the 
result of other non-driving offenses - a default criminal warrant, 
for example, or because of child support delinquency - to shield 
their suspensions from publicly-available RMV records.

Senate sponsors of the bill say those steps would prevent employers 
and others from conducting "back-door" criminal background checks, by 
obtaining Registry records to screen for criminal activity when they 
might otherwise not have access to criminal records. Some members of 
the Legislature, of course, have been on a crusade to hide more and 
more criminal records from public view.

But the scales should always be tipped in favor of transparency, and 
in favor of public safety. The House should repeal the automatic 
suspensions, but drop those provisions that seek to rewrite personal histories.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom