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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 14, 2020 12:41 PM
From: Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr.
To: All House members
Subject: Return Your Rights
We all believe in a judicial system where individuals are held responsible for their actions. We also talk about ways to reduce recidivism and allow those who accepted their penalty to have a 2nd chance at life afterwards. My legislation seeks to ensure after nonviolent offenders serve their time and pay any financial penalties, they have all rights restored to them as full citizens.

Many have been disenfranchised and disincentivized to change their lives after their experiences in the judicial system. In many states, even while on parole you can be denied basic rights and privileges of citizenship until years after their incarceration. This is setting up an entire population for failure, while proving costly for taxpayers.

For this reason and others, I am introducing a bill called “Return Your Rights.” This legislation permits those with non-violent crimes the following rights returned upon serving their sentence and paying all fines, fees and restitution:
  • Returns the rights to carry a gun license,
  • Provides automatic expungement for nonviolent felonies under the controlled substance drug and device and cosmetic act, or equivalent to federal statute. DUI, & drug convictions.
    • Crimes related to corrupt organizations, criminal trespassing if the offence is graded a felony of the 2nd degree or higher.
Alleviating these hardships provides hope and creates a strong incentive for the avoidance of recidivism by offenders. While the clean slate legislation of 2018 was an important first step, meaningful criminal justice reform requires more. Automatic expungement of nonviolent crimes benefits citizens of the Commonwealth by truly providing a “second chance” after rehabilitation.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.