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Sex offenders shouldn't be allowed to expunge their records

Commentator Sean Kennedy bemoans the fact that the General Assembly authorized expungement of convictions for only 50 crimes in the Justice Reinvestment Act ("Redemption and rewards for felons," June 6).

He does not delineate what these crimes are, nor does he mention the longstanding and common practice of plea-bargaining serious crimes. He also does not mention that these expungements undermine the efficacy of criminal history background check requirements for those who have access to or work with vulnerable children, the elderly and the disabled.

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Although a legislator who pushed these expungements had claimed that he had no interest in expunging sexually related crimes, somehow brothel owners and pimps who prostitute children and women were allowed the privilege of having their records expunged.

More problematic is that those convicted of second-degree assault, despite having physically or sexually abused children, can now have their cases expunged.

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Expungement means complete obliteration of the record. Should an elementary school teacher who molested four of his young students have the right to completely obscure his criminal history because he was fortunate enough to be convicted of second-degree assault rather than of felony sex abuse charges because the prosecutor did not want to put the children through a trial?

Why should he be allowed to pass a criminal history background check so that he can then get a job working with children in camps, schools and juvenile detention centers or adopt or foster a child without anyone being aware of his past criminal history?

Rather than accusing those who are concerned with the protection children of lacking compassion, perhaps proponents should give more thought to the welfare of those too vulnerable to protect themselves. Rather than passing more expungement legislation next session, legislators instead should amend the Justice Reinvestment Act to preclude the expungement of second degree assault records.

Ellen Mugmon, Elkridge

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