Last month, Governor Deval Patrick introduced legislation, H4476, designed to limit the use of Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) in certain circumstances. Under current law, a person can request their criminal record be sealed after fifteen years for a felony conviction or ten years for misdemeanors. The new law would prohibit sealing of sex offenses, but would allow sealing of a felony record after ten years, and a misdemeanor after five. "To further improve employment prospects, the bill directs the CHSB not to provide CORI-certified employers access to records that are eligible for sealing under the new timelines" but criminal justice agencies would continue to be given full access to sealed records.
In his press release, “CORI was never intended to turn every offense into a life sentence,” said Governor Patrick. “All but a handful of people incarcerated are eventually released, and they need to get back to work. These reforms require decision-makers to make an individual determination about whether an applicant is rehabilitated, rather than excluding ex-offenders categorically. If we want to reduce crime and help people re-integrate successfully, this is a smarter approach.”
The Massachusetts Bar Association supports the proposal, which has been referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
Much more information on CORI is available at our Mass. Law About Criminal Records.