ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some New Mexicans will be able to get their criminal convictions erased from their records in the new year. It’s part of a new law that the American Civil Liberties Union insists will make everyone safer.
“I also spent about 10 years in prison for things like shoplifting and various property crimes,” said Barron Jones of Albuquerque.
Now years out of prison, Jones said it was drug use that spurred his checkered past, which led to more problems.
“Having a criminal record, it’s hard to get employment,” he said.
He said he’ll soon petition the courts to get his criminal record wiped clean through the Criminal Record Expungement Act that goes into effect Jan. 1.
“We want to make sure that people can actually use this bill and have a chance to move forward,” New Mexico ACLU Senior Policy Strategist Paul Haidle stated.
The New Mexico ACLU fought for the law, and it’s now making sure people who qualify take advantage of it. Those who cannot get their records cleared include people with convictions for DWI, embezzlement, sex crimes, crimes against children and homicides.
“There are still lots of crimes that will be eligible for expungement and the waiting periods for those crimes are typically based on how serious it is, and they range from one year all the way up to 10 years from the end of the last sentence,” Haidle said.
The civil rights group is also training service providers and attorneys to help convicts through the process.
Jones, who is now with the ACLU, said the new law will actually make everyone safer.
“We know that when people are able to have good jobs and provide for their families, that lowers recidivism,” Haidle explained.
New Mexico is one of the last states in the country to pass this type of law. Prosecutors and police would still have access to past criminal records.
For more information about what convictions qualify for expungement, click here.