By: Georgia First Amendment Foundation
We wanted to update you about House Bill 1176, and some of its provisions that may undermine open government and transparency in Georgia. We hope that the Georgia Senate will remove the anti-access provisions. The language in the bill goes way beyond allowing a judge to carefully expunge somebody’s criminal record where they have demonstrated it is appropriate.
In many circumstances, it calls for automatically sealing all criminal records, including routine police records, when charges are dismissed or when someone is found not guilty. There would be no way to evaluate whether that result was fair to the victims of the crime or to determine if the police acted improperly in the first place.
It creates a real risk that a lot of decisions made by police and prosecutors will be secret forever. That’s a very bad idea.
It also will lead to a system where the public is wondering if the information given to them about someone’s criminal history is filled with holes. Our government should not be picking and choosing what parts of the truth about the criminal justice system that it wants to share with its citizens.
Please call your legislators about these concerns, and feel free to contact us with questions. Thank you for your help in this effort.