by Eileen | 8:23 am, January 25, 2013 | Comments Off
WHAT: HB 13-1082, Expunging juvenile records
WHO: Rep. Jeanne Labuda (D-1)
WHY: Never take a reference from a leftist; they always want to give someone a second chance.
Normally, people like me are pleased to see Jeanne Labuda turn her rapacious little head to anything that isn’t an out-and-out tax hike. Not, methinks, in this instance.
HB 1082 is another bill to substantially alter existing statute, this in favor of expunging more juvenile records. At present, the arrest and criminal records of juvenile offenders are publicly available. Rep. Labuda is hedgy in her wording; she’s only asking that it be legally allowed for a court to consider a petition to expunge records; within 30 days for most stuff, five years for ‘aggravated’ and ‘violent’ juvenile offenders.
So it’s not a blanket expunging of the pimply inspirations for yet more dreary courtroom procedurals. But she does want to sharply limit public access to juvenile records. Our current statute for what juvenile offenses are publicly searchable lists:
Committing the crime of possession of a handgun by a
Committing an act that would constitute a class 1, 2, 3, or
4 felony; or
Committing an act that would constitute any crime that
involves the use or possession of a weapon if such act were
committed by an adult.
And she’d like to strike everything but Class 1 felonies and obviously, firearm possession. After all, she’s a Denver Democrat. Seriously, though, have you any idea the kind of stuff you can do to other people and not rise to the level of a Class 1 felony? She’s dangling the idea of expunging more than a little loitering and public obscenity.
One thing she isn’t seeking to strike, though, from the existing statute is the limitation on just how fully expunged these records would be:
Any record that is ordered expunged shall, notwithstanding any such order for expungement, be available to any judge and the probation department for use in any future juvenile or adult sentencing hearing regarding the person whose record was expunged.
Heck, I remember back when she was in favor of ex parte wiretaps. It’s one thing to keep records of public interest from the public, but the state must always have its records. Anyway. Jeanne Labuda is no champion of privacy, but is HB 1082 any good?
If records are still available for sentencing, if it’s simply a right to petition rather than a guarantee of expungement, and if it does still exempt Class 1 felonies, it’s not quite the end of the world. But now we need to think about how likely the courts would be to grant petitions. I think public access to records for Class 1 -4 felons isn’t a bad idea. Rape is Class 2. Second-Degree Assault is Class 4. Personally, I don’t want anyone even offering to wipe that stuff away unless I get to pick the judges.
One thing, though, that is not subject to expunging is a legislator’s voting record. Jeanne Labuda’s past bills color my thoughts on this one.
Back in 2009, she ran a successful bill that significantly lessened the rights of crime victims to testify at certain points. The same session, she voted in favor of mandatory DNA collection at the time of a felony arrest. Last year, she wanted animal abusers to be forced to register with a state database. Of course, it didn’t apply to juveniles. I can think of one argument for monitoring animal abusers – it’s a red flag for psychopathy. But it was also a mandatory database that, had the bill passed, would have been all about naming and shaming people for prior acts and tracking them in fear of recidivism, or escalation. Precisely the things she’s now arguing against when it comes to teens. Animal abuse isn’t a Class 1 felony; it’s not even a felony at all in Colorado. So do the budding antisocials get to fly under the radar if they start young? At the very least, Rep. Labuda ought to figure out who she does and does not want to track.
Back then, she admitted her animal abuse registry failed because people didn’t believe non0recidivists would truly be purged from the list after some promised span and would instead be hounded. Her response was a chirpy little quip that maybe she’d reintroduce the bill without any sunset provision. I think that’s her idea of considering feedback. Unless it’s her idea of being funny. Oh, god.
I’m not trying to be picky here; I’m arguing that if 18-and-up offenders should be shunned and surveiled indefinitely for a misdemeanor, then the standard for juveniles to petition for expunging shouldn’t be so low that only Class 1 felonies are absolutely excluded. Let’s be honest; in the matter of juveniles who committed serious-but-not-quite-class-1-felonies, we aren’t talking about 11 and 12 years olds, but about 16 and 17 year olds who have a decent enough idea of what they did to face the music for more than just the opening bar. My feeling is that Rep. Labuda is overreaching on ideas with some merit.
Nor, I will not let it go unremarked that Jenna Labuda, a leftist’s leftist, is so ready to forgive people for things they actually have done when she’s gleefully backed bills that would punish peaceful gun owners for the high crime of scaring Democrats. Unless, of course, she decides to deny any of those votes.
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