The North Carolina state Senate recently passed the “Second Chance Act”, a solid criminal justice reform bill that will help former non-violent offenders, who have maintained a clean record since their release, fully reintegrate with society.  

The bill removes barriers to economic opportunities for former offenders, allowing them to expunge non-violent offenses from their records if they have gone 10 years or more under the following conditions: no new charges, completed sentencing, paid all fines. The one-time fee of $175 is far more reasonable than the costly legal hurdles that people have to deal with now.

Senate Bill 562 was passed unanimously, with strong support from both Democrats and Republicans. This coming the day after Rebecca Tisdale, former non-violent criminal and founder of Justice Served, NC, marched along with over 1,000 supporters of the criminal reform bill.

Her story shows the personal impact of these reforms, as ABC 11 reports, “For Tisdale, it’s a whole new life. At 40, she is finally able to get a driver’s license. She’s now enrolled at Wake Tech, and, hope has returned.”

Now the bill needs to be approved by the North Carolina House. The House has every reason to support the bill. This legislation is a win for taxpayers and communities. People who have proven they have moved on from their crimes should have the chance to leave that past behind, build new lives, and contribute to their communities. The opportunity to clear one’s record is an important incentive for people to avoid committing another crime later.

According to Tisdale, “It’s a second chance. It’s a big chance”.