By Staff Report
RAVENNA — Portage County Clerk of Courts Jill Fankhauser announced this week a pilot program that would help criminal defendants remove sealed or expunged court records from online databases where they might interfere with future background checks.
After a court seals or expunges a record, most people assume their record is deleted from online databases. However, if a background company is not diligent in maintaining its data, it is common for criminal records to remain on background checks after they have been sealed. This can cause problems for those who are trying to get a job or better housing.
The program, which will run through September, will expedite the removal of such records from background checks. The first-in-the-nation service gives defendants the option to pay an additional $45 fee whent they apply to seal or expunge their record.
“This service is funded by the applicants, so it does not use the taxpayers money for the service. It will save taxpayers money in the long run as it helps people get back to work faster and reduce the chances of recidivism,” Fankhauser said.
If an expungement motion is granted, the clerk’s office will notify a law firm selected by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, which will then notify the agency that maintains the online database to remove the record, increasing their chances that a criminal record will no longer appear on a background check.
A person seeking to have their record expunged without this program would normally pay hundreds of dollars.
Those interested in the service should act quickly, as the program could end in September when the state reassesses its effectiveness.
“We have seen first-hand how the benefits of this service can dramatically improve lives and help deserving people get back to work or find better housing.” Fankhauser said. “We hope many citizens will take advantage of this opportunity.”