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Colorado bill particulars deeply affect one audience

"I think the concept of punishment is supposed to be finite," says one Colorado legislator.

That lawmaker is Rep. Mike Weissman (D-Aurora), who strongly supports one criminal law reform measure that is of deep concern to its targeted audience.

That group of individuals comprises Coloradans charged with crimes who duly complied with all their post-conviction sentencing mandates and yet continue to suffer from enduringly adverse effects tied to their past.

Weissman and like-minded reformers want to see that changed for many Colorado residents with criminal histories.

"I do not think criminal records ought to be a form of punishment," he says.

And yet they are for legions of past offenders who suffer all manner of post-release challenges in their daily lives. For many people, those importantly include repeated job rejections.

Weissman and others want to loosen relevant Colorado law on criminal record sealing for select individuals, believing - based on strongly supportive empirical evidence - that changes must be made to better promote social reintegration for ex-offenders.

A record-sealing bill sponsored by Weissman and commanding broad support is currently making the requisite rounds through the state's General Assembly. A key point its proponents stress is that the broad-based salutary effects realized all across the state when released parties secure meaningful employment are sabotaged by criminal records that continue to remain open to scrutiny. Those records often preclude job success, with that failure spurring renewed criminal activity and a return to prison.

Many state lawmakers understandably want to see that changed, with Weissman's bill specifically detailing some major adjustments. Importantly, the would-be legislation recognizes that not every ex-offender should qualify for record sealing. Lawmakers are reportedly finetuning the eligibility parameters for sealing presently.

We will keep readers duly apprised of the outcome.

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