The Kentucky General Assembly has made a couple of attempts in recent years to let judges expunge low-level felony convictions from people's records.

The idea is to help these people get better jobs -- and pay more taxes.

And with unemployment rates being at their lowest level in decades, businesses need more workers.

Of course, they could solve the problems themselves by looking at the person rather than the record.

But they don't.

The first bill the General Assembly passed had so many problems that it did little good.

And it cost $500 -- plus legal fees.

So, this year, the General Assembly lowered the cost to $250 and made some other changes.

It's still too soon to know if this year's changes will solve the problem of getting clean records for more people.

But Pennsylvania seems to have solved the problem.

According to the website Route Fifty, it recently became the first state to "deploy an automated system to seal criminal records for all qualifying formerly incarcerated or arrested people in the state. In the first month of operation alone, the state estimates that 2.5 million cases will be sealed, with an additional 27.5 million in the year that follows."

The story said that "no state has automatically cleared the records of all eligible people before."

It added that Pennsylvania judges have granted expungements to those eligible 90% percent of the time.

But fewer than 10% of those eligible have actually had their records sealed.

Navigating the system was too complex -- and costly -- for most people, the story said.

According to the story, one-third of Americans now have a record -- from DUIs to misdemeanors to low-level felonies.

If Kentucky is serious about expungement, maybe we need to look at the Pennsylvania model.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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