An Opinion: $350 Expungement Fee is Too High

A new law setting up procedures for expunging criminal records (previous post HERE) is praised for its intent by columnist Wendi C. Thomas, but panned for the $350 fee imposed on those who want to take advantage of the measure.
This is a revenue-generating law to the tune of an estimated $7 million. No wonder it got bipartisan support.
That the cost isn’t linked directly to the fee is troubling to Cantrell.
“That seems to impact poor people in a disproportionate way for no real reason,” he said. “Is $350 going to close a lot of my clients out? The answer is yes.”
Spickler is more optimistic.
“If you’ve qualified for this, $350 is easy. You find the $350 to get this off your record,” he said.
And for those who qualify but don’t have the cash?
“We’re going to find that $350,” Spickler said.
The law doesn’t contain a pauper’s provision, which is customary, nor is it clear whether the fee is returned if the judge denies the expungement request.

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