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Making second chance easier

An arrest record, even for a non-violent offense, can be enough to keep a job applicant on the rolls of the unemployed.

Ohio lawmakers are now considering a change that would help some of those folks continue to move forward.

A bill passed by the House of Representatives and under consideration in the state Senate allows offenders with two eligible misdemeanors and two eligible third-degree felonies to seek the sealing of their records.

Right now, offenders can have no more than one misdemeanor and one third-degree felony conviction to make the request. The bill would also decrease how long offenders must wait to have offenses sealed, from three years to one. It allows judges to increase use of a program that orders treatment rather than prosecution for those facing low-level drug charges.

Those convicted of violent or sex crimes would not be eligible.

Obviously, judges would need to have the final say in such cases. Some non-violent felons should not be released on an unsuspecting public. Some should never, ever, have their records sealed.

But for those who truly have learned their lesson and sincerely want a second chance at the straight-and-narrow, the change could be appropriate. If the bill becomes law, they could find it easier to become employed, get housing and simply move on with their lives.

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