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Milwaukee Group Pushing To Ease Laws Expunging Criminal Records

Attorney Says He Expects Legislature To Face Increased Pressure To Expand

prison bar close-up
Michael Coghlan (CC-BY-NC-ND)  

More than 70 million people nationwide have some kind of criminal record, and even if it’s for a minor offense, that record can make it challenging to get a job or financial aid for college. An effort is now underway in Milwaukee to help people overcome that barrier.

A group called Clean Slate Milwaukee offered a clinic on Saturday for people who want to have their records expunged.

Attorney Odalo Ohiku said that under state law, the only records eligible to be wiped clean are for nonviolent offenses committed before the age of 25.

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“If it’s a violent offense, the Legislature has said, ‘Nope, those are exempted. They’re not eligible,’” he said.

Ohiku said there’s one youthful offense that often creates problems for people and it’s eligible for being removed.

“(There are) possession of marijuana-type cases. Those are very common and those will get people problems when it comes to looking for employment or trying to obtain financial aid,” he said.

Ohiku said he expects there will be increasing pressure on the Legislature to expand the number of offenses that can be legally removed.