JustLeadershipUSA Responds To South Carolina Legislature’s Overriding Veto of H3209

June 28, 2018

STATEMENT FROM MEGAN FRENCH-MARCELIN, #WORKINGFUTURE CAMPAIGN COORDINATOR

“Due to the United States’ detrimental, regressive, and misguided overreliance on mass incarceration and mass criminalization as a solution to socioeconomic challenges, particularly in Black and Latinx communities, over 7o million Americans – that’s 1-in-3 working-age adults – now have a criminal record. Some of the consequences that these men and women are forced to endure are contained in the 48,000 laws and regulations collectively known as collateral consequences; the laws and regulations that prevent someone’s successful and holistic reentry into their community. These consequences are anything but collateral; they are the purposefully built, harmful impediments that prevent someone with a conviction from having access to a job, a home, healthcare, or education. Expunging those convictions from people’s records is a key step in eradicating these barriers, healing the harm that these barriers have created, and pushing back against the shadow that the criminal legal system casts over communities.

“In South Carolina, the state Legislature voted to override Governor Henry McMaster’s veto of H3209, a bill aimed at creating pathways to expungement for some people. This bill had earned support from advocates and private employers across the state because it is a positive step in the right direction. It will help people with certain convictions achieve expungement and gain access to jobs that need to be filled throughout the state. There are many issues, though, that remain unresolved in this Legislation. This bill restricts its own effectiveness by: offering expungement to too few people; limiting the number of times people can utilize this bill’s provisions; forcing people to wait far too long to be eligible for expungement while in the interim they are relegated to perpetual second-class citizenship; and maintaining unnecessary, burdensome fees.

“In partnership with allies, advocates, and impacted communities across South Carolina, we will push the Legislature to reconsider this issue in their next session and to pass the bold expungement legislation that South Carolinians demand and deserve. The #WORKINGfuture campaign believes that expungement should be automatic for most offenses and presumptive upon application for others. We believe that expungement applications should be free and easily understood. We also believe that expungement should be available within a short timeframe after a sentence ends. We will hold Legislators accountable to meeting each of these demands by amplifying the voices, experiences, and leadership of directly impacted people across the state.”