The lousy U.S. job market has made it more urgent for workers with criminal convictions to seek to have their records purged so they can compete for work, the Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 11.
Petitions to clear criminal records have spiked in states like Michigan, where 46 percent more convictions will be set aside this year than last; Florida will expunge 43 percent more convictions, while Oregon will set aside about 33 percent more.
“I’ve had more people come in to talk to me about having their records expunged in the last year than I have had in the previous 13 combined,” said Florida defense attorney Michael Hornung.
The war on drugs has contributed greatly to the increase in the number of Americans with criminal convictions, at a time when more than 80 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks on prospective employees.
In Pennsylvania, state Rep. Tim Solobay recently drafted legislation to allow expungement of misdemeanor convictions for offenses like disorderly conduct and marijuana possession. Arrests for marijuana possession more than tripled between 1980 and 2007.