Expungement Backlog Made Worse by Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A New Jersey man granted an expungement of his criminal record in May 2019 is still waiting for that record to be cleared due to delays caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “His slate should have been wiped clean by now, but it’s July 2020 and anyone running a background check will find his criminal record intact, which is exactly what happened when he tried to rent an apartment and was denied,” according to a report from NJ.com.

“The process to clear someone’s name can take about five months to complete, and while experts say (his) case is an outlier – a 14-month wait is far from the norm – New Jersey’s archaic expungement system has suffered from multiple backlogs. With the coronavirus pandemic closing state and county offices, forcing furloughs, and hobbling government operations on various fronts, it’s now taking even longer,” NJ.com reported.

A spokesman for the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) said in a statement for the NJ.com report: “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the expungement process took approximately 22 weeks. Due to the pandemic, the process has taken longer as a result of the NJSP implementing modified personnel schedules. We anticipate additional delays to the 22-week timeline in processing requests once the courts resume processing expungement.”

Court officials told NJ.com that the case is “still waiting to be processed and that it should be cleared soon.” Part of the problem is that more people are seeking expungement. The NJSP completed more than 14,000 of them in 2019 and that number will increase. The complete article is at www.nj.com/gloucester-county/2020/07/hes-waited-14-months-for-courts-to-clear-his-name-but-coronavirus-made-expungement-backlog-worse.html.

In December 2017, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation – Senate Bills 3306, 3307, and 3308 – to modernize the state’s expungement system and help minor criminal offenders. “Expungement has to be an option that’s available to those who have earned it and who deserve it, and this legislation will allow people to get that,” Governor Christie said during the public bill signing. The legislation took effect on October 1, 2018.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a potentially deadly respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of July 27, 2020, there are more than 16.2 million total global cases of Coronavirus and more than 648,000 total global deaths, while the United States leads the world with more than 4.2 million total cases of Coronavirus and more than 146,000 total deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

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