Bipartisan Expungement Bill Considered

By Joe Peterangelo

A bipartisan proposal to modify Wisconsin’s expungement law is advancing in the state legislature.

Our June 2018 report, A Fresh Start, identified possible changes state policymakers could consider to expand opportunities for individuals to expunge criminal records in certain cases. Matching bills in the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly (SB 39 and AB 33) would make several of those changes, including:

  • Removing the state’s current requirement limiting expungement eligibility to individuals under the age of 25;
  • Allowing individuals to petition for expungement after completing their sentences rather than only at sentencing hearings; and
  • Making these changes retroactive, thus allowing individuals to seek expungement of past convictions where approval was not made at sentencing.

The Assembly’s Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety approved the bill by a 9-1 vote on March 28 and the Senate’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety approved it 4-1 on April 2. A majority of legislators on both sides of the legislature are co-sponsors of the bills, including a roughly equal number of Republicans and Democrats.