New Law Gives Hoosiers Hideout From Criminal Past

Ex-Offenders Could Hide Histories From Potential Employers

On July 1, a new law will give Hoosiers with nonviolent criminal histories a way to hide their past from potential employers.

For a Hoosier convicted of a misdemeanor or a Class D felony that didn't result in injury, the new law gives the ex-offender the legal right to petition the court to limit access to their criminal histories for eight years if they don't commit any more crimes, 6News' Jack Rinehart reported.

Olgen Williams, deputy mayor of Indianapolis said if the court orders a person's record restricted, that person may legally state on a job application, or any other document, that he or she has not been arrested for or convicted of the felony or misdemeanor in their restricted records.

"We have over 100,000 people in Marion County alone that's been convicted of a crime," Williams said. "That's a large population. Most of them are individuals who have turned their lives around, own homes, pay taxes and have become productive citizens."

The intent of the legislation would limit background checks of an individual's criminal history to the past eight years. If the petition is granted, records would be available to law enforcement agencies, treatment agencies and service providers as required by a court.

Despite the new law, Joel Schumm, a professor at the Indiana University Law School, said that in this era of information technology, ex-offenders may find it increasingly difficult to insulate themselves from their past.

"The genie is already out of the bottle," Schumm said. "Private companies that do background checks are going to have access to the information already. I don't know if the law can keep prospective employers from getting information that's already out there."