The South Carolina General Assembly has passed a new law that will make it easier for people with criminal records to have convictions expunged, as well as potentially increase the state’s workforce.
The new law allows people who keep a clean record from 3 to 25 years depending on the crime to have their records expunged. It also allows first time drug convictions to be erased.
The law will take effect six months after it passes on December 27, 2018.
24-year-old Bryan Harris, part of the Horry County Drug Court Program was convicted with a drug charge when he was 13, forcing him to work construction jobs for the last 11 years.
“It’s one of those things that has been held against me my whole life, now all I can do is learn from it and not get in trouble anymore.” Harris said.
He says he thinks this new law will change a lot of people’s lives.
“I’m sure a lot of people that have one mistake, or that one bad charge would very much appreciate it because then they can do what they want in life.” Harris said.
Owner of Burger Fi in Myrtle Beach, Larry Higgins says he cares more about who an employee is today rather than what their record reflects.
“There’s a lot of people that make a lot of mistakes and I think people deserve a second chance.” Higgins said.
Other local business owners say they can understand the concern and for certain lines of work, all prior charges should be visible.
“Federal government jobs, and that’s somewhere like hospitals, places like that, where people have to be more secure than just in a local business.” said Mabeth Rogers, co-owner of Flowers by Richard.