Lawmakers consider clearing some criminal records

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - According to a report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, an estimated 1.4 million Wisconsin residents have criminal records.

Wisconsin lawmakers are now working to ease the burdens for people convicted of low-level offenses.

Studies have shown arrest and conviction records can have lingering effects making it hard for individuals to later succeed as law-abiding citizens.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states in the past four years have enacted legislation to make it easier for people to shield their past, low-level convictions from public view.

In Wisconsin, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is trying to change the expungement process, too.

"We get rid of that time of sentencing procedure, so instead of making the decision before sentencing, before the individual completes their sentence, we make the decision after. That way, the individual petitioning for expungment can say to the court they can show their record," Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) said.

Assembly Bill 33 passed on a third reading in the Assembly in May. The bill needs to pass the state Senate, where it's still awaiting scheduling. It has 17 co-authors in the Senate.