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7/7/2021 Assembly OKs, governor signs arrest records sealing legislation
Criminal justice reform bill aimed at rebuilding lives
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly has approved and the governor has signed legislation sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer and Rep. Jason Knight to allow more people to have their arrests records sealed when they’ve been acquitted or exonerated, and waiving the $100 fee for it. 

Until now, a person could apply to have the record sealed on an arrest for which they are acquitted or otherwise exonerated – unless that person has ever been convicted of a felony. The result is that an unrelated felony conviction, even decades old, can prevent a person from having the record sealed on a later, unrelated arrest for which they were not convicted.

The legislation (2021-S 0503, 2021-H 5084), which was backed by Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, eliminates the restriction, as well as the administrative fee.

“This is a senseless restriction that serves as a roadblock to those who are trying to turn their lives around. Even when a person is not convicted, an arrest record is frequently a major barrier to employment, and employment is critical for people to build themselves a better life and serve as a contributing member of society. This bill is practical criminal justice reform that will help our system work cohesively to steer people on a path forward,” said Representative Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren).

The $100 fee also effectively has served as a barrier to many of those the legislation affects.

“The $100 filing fee to process records-sealing requests is really cost-prohibitive for so many people who are just trying to get back on their feet,” said Senator Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown). “This legislation will make sure that the process is accessible to those who maybe don’t have the financial means to get their lives back on track.”

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923