Utah

Utah Public Safety is seeking additional resources to clear the legislative backlog

Utah’s clean law provides light offenders with an opportunity to overcome adversity by erasing records of specific types of offences. The 2019 law has not been fully implemented by then February 10, 2022.

In some casesa person may need to seek additional resources in order to take advantage of the program.

Utah is only the second state in the country to enact such a law, and the Department of Public Safety wasn’t sure what the response would entail.

“When we have almost half a million records that qualify, we just don’t know exactly what we would see,” said the commissioner for the Ministry of Public Security Jess Anderson.

Less than a year into the program, the state court system has received more than 216,000 files for disposal. About 60,000 of those have been processed, and Anderson said they still have more than 100,000 records that need to be processed manually.

“That’s a small backlog, especially as we get 7,000 records coming into the system each month to continue to be deleted.”

Part of the reason for the backlog is mismatched information in older records and the need for additional resources to process them. Because of this, the Department of Public Safety is asking the Utah Legislature to approve funding for more employees.

“So, quite simply, we need a bit more staff to handle the number of records that we have to process manually,” he said.

Despite the backlog, community advocates say there still aren’t enough people who know they can delete their records and get the other resources available to them.

Rasa Legal is a non-profit organization that helps Utahns clean up their records for high-level misdemeanors and even felonies. CEO Noella Sudbury said employers could play a big role in raising awareness of the deletion program.

“Spreading the word around your company, your staffing suppliers and in the break room. I really think we are all needed.”

In addition to awareness, Jeanetta Williams, NAACP Salt Lake president and regional director for the Nevada, Idaho and Utah chapters, said there are also efforts to make the process more affordable.

“I think the most important thing is to make sure that we can help people spread the word and then also help them erase their records and help them and guide them. So, you know, for example, financially they would say, oh, I can’t afford it. Well, we’re trying to make it affordable.

The legislature also helps in other ways. HB1392which came into effect in 2022 suspends the fees for a cancellation request until June 30, 2023. Normally fees could costs over $2,000.

A person wishing to delete their record now only has to pay a $65 filing fee.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. James Dunniganalso supports another bill that could extend the reduced fee for another five years.

“I think it’s going to have a lot of support from a lot of people, but there’s no guarantee,” Sudbury said.

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