Leaders in Chattanooga are easing the passage to employment with the ban the box initiative. However the police department is apparently some way behind. Reportedly the number of expunged criminal records backlog stands at around 23,000. The police department are more than aware of the problem and are working through the expunged criminal records. The problems have been blamed on the previous administration and staff shortages. However the current problems over the expunged criminal records should not affect an individual’s background check. This is because background checks are from the clerk’s office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The exact number of outstanding expunged criminal records has not been confirmed. The department is currently sifting the expunged criminal records in to alphabetic order. An internal source says there may be upwards to 23,000. The department has prioritized the latest orders to expunge criminal records. There are also plans for the records department to have four vacancies filled to address the imbalance. Off duty officers will also be allocated to older outstanding cases. A councilor who has advocated ban the box was shocked at the amount of expunged criminal records caught up in the system. Commenting that it needs to be a priority. Delays prevent self sufficiency and an opportunity for individuals to turn their lives around.
Last November the council voted in favor of banning the box. Job application questionnaires will now have the criminal records check box removed by the HR department. The significance of the problem has also been downgraded by officials in that other agencies may well have their own backlog of expunged criminal records. However Hamilton County is around 4 weeks behind deleting expunged orders. Four weeks behind being representative of a few hundred records. A larger department at Knoxville weren’t aware of any outstanding cases. Defense attorneys are also anxious to advise of the potential repercussions. If incorrect information is given out without realising the record should have been expunged.
Once an expunged order is received it is the Police Department’s responsibility to remove and amend the charge and the name from the incident report. Tennessee law states anyone who has their case dismissed is eligible for expungement. Since 2012 it has been made easier for individuals to have their records expunged. For a fee of $450 a criminal record is deleted (first time conviction) subject to five years having passed and dependent on the charge.