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佐治亚州立法者希望对初犯法进行背景调查更新

自 2011 年上任以来,佐治亚州州长内森·迪尔 (Nathan Deal) 已将刑事司法改革作为其政府的主要重点。该州议会的立法者也纷纷效仿,提出了旨在让刑事罪犯在服刑后更容易重新融入社会的建议和举措。目前,该州的立法者正在制定一些举措,允许毒品犯罪者保留他们的驾驶执照并获得食品券——这两项特权经常被剥夺。在接下来的几年内,Deal 和乔治亚州的立法者还希望做出一些其他改变——包括重新审视该州的《初犯法》。

目前,佐治亚州的《初犯法》允许以前没有犯罪记录的罪犯保持他们的名单上没有定罪。从本质上讲,如果一个人被指控犯罪、认罪并服刑,他们可以在没有定罪的情况下出庭。当然,并非所有罪犯都有资格获得此选项。迪尔在刑事司法改革领域的大部分立法努力旨在帮助非暴力罪犯,同时为暴力罪犯或性侵犯者保留监狱位置。

在纸面上,《初犯法》基本上听起来像是针对较轻的刑事犯罪者的自动记录密封或删除程序。根据量刑要求的完成情况和一般的良好行为,每个州都为刑事犯罪者提供清除其记录的机会。然而,大多数州都没有像《初犯法》那样的法律,该法允许首次被定罪的罪犯在服完刑期后自动认罪并获得清白记录。

然而,根据亚特兰大宪法杂志,《初犯法》是一个有缺陷的系统,因为它没有完全封存或清除一个人的犯罪记录。相反,这些指控或定罪有时仍会出现在背景调查中,从而使前罪犯更难找到工作、申请住房等。这个问题显然是“官僚主义的事情”,可以归咎于未完成或未归档的文书工作。

由州长 Deal 组建的刑事司法改革委员会希望完善《初犯法》,以确保利用该法律规定的人的记录得到密封。记录仍然存在,如果罪犯违反假释或犯下新的罪行,可以再次打开。然而,主要目的似乎是这些记录将不再出现在私人筛选公司进行的背景调查中。


Currently, Georgia's First Offender Act allows offenders with no previous criminal records to keep their slates clean of convictions. Essentially, if a person is charged with a crime, pleads guilty, and serves their sentence, they can come out on the other side without a conviction. Not all offenders are eligible for this option, of course. Most of Deal's legislative efforts in the criminal justice reform area are meant to help non-violent offenders while reserving prison spots for violent criminals or sexual predators.

On paper, the First Offender Act essentially sounds like an automatic record sealing or expungement program for less severe criminal offenders. Every state offers opportunities for criminal offenders to expunge their records, based on completion of sentencing requirements and general good behavior. However, most states do not have a law like the First Offender Act, which allows first-time convicted criminals to plead guilty and get a clean record automatically, as long as they complete their sentences.

However, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the First Offender Act is a flawed system in that it doesn't fully seal or expunge a person's criminal record. On the contrary, those charges or convictions can still sometimes come up on background checks, thereby making it more difficult for ex-offenders to get jobs, apply for housing, and more. The issue is evidently "a bureaucratic thing" that can be blamed on unfinished or unfiled paperwork.

The Council on Criminal Justice Reform, which was assembled by Governor Deal, wants to refine the First Offender Act to make sure that people who take advantage of the law's provisions are having their records sealed. The records would still be there, and could be opened up again if an offender violated parole or committed a new crime. However, the main aim seems to be that those records would no longer show up on background checks run by private screening firms.

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