One of the unfortunate aspects to being charged with a criminal offense is the long-term suffering it can impart on the accused person. The charge may be something relatively minor, such as a drunk driving charge or a crime that is eventually dropped before the person is ultimately charged. These types of offenses stay on a person's record long after they have suffered the punitive measures the justice system has handed them.
As a result, they may suffer a variety of effects, such as a difficulty finding work or the disintegration of their relationships with friends or family. It's a terrible side-effect, but an all too real one for many New York residents. The sad part about this is these people are not repeat offenders or hardened criminals: they are regular people like you and me, who just happened to make one relatively minor mistake.
Instead of letting these people suffer without doing much to help them, what if a program was created to rehabilitate their record? What if an expungement was more common, allowing regular people with relatively minor criminal offenses to enjoy a normal life again?
Enter the state of California, which for the past 15 years has been using a program that does just that. It gives "criminals" the chance to expunge their criminal record of appropriate charges. Before the program was in place, only about 50 criminal records would be expunged every year. Now that number is roughly 2,000; and it could go up. Hopefully states around the nation hear of this successful program and consider adopting a similar version.
Source: SF Examiner, "Reformed offenders earn fresh starts," Mike Aldax, Sept. 29, 2013