It seems like nearly every election cycle a political candidate is caught lying to one of the state’s newspapers about criminal convictions in their past. Despite the embarrassment that occurs when they are inevitably caught in a lie, it is sad to say that many of those who have criminal convictions – and more importantly lie about them – in their past go on to win their elections [side note: I can think of at least two from this past election cycle].
Well, now it looks like two legislators, both defense attorneys, want to make it easier for convicted criminals to get elected to office without the burden of their past criminal convictions (subscription):
If two criminal defense lawyers serving in the Legislature get their way, a lot of New Mexico ex-cons wouldn’t have to worry about their rap sheets following them around the rest of their lives.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, and Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, are pushing bills that would allow judges to wipe away court and police records of offenders who complete sentences for certain crimes and aren’t charged with new crimes for a certain period of time.
The bills are not identical, but under one or the other offenses that could be expunged range from petty crimes like shoplifting, which could disappear after one year, to DWIs after ten years. Records of most violent felonies that don’t involve death, sex crimes or weapons could also be expunged after ten years. Domestic violence arrests and convictions would be eligible for expungement.
This is an absurd bill. Yes, people do stupid things in their lives, and some might even result in a criminal record. This is especially true when people are young. However, the strength of a person’s character comes not from hiding from their past mistakes, but from owning those mistakes and never making them again. Heck, if a man can get elected President of the United States without his DWI conviction being expunged, what possible rationale can we have for expunging public records.
In other news, federal investigations continue to move forward and ethics bills are still to be pushed through the legislature. Also, the “ brother of disgraced political heavyweight Manny Aragon to five years in prison for his part in a drug-smuggling operation. ” But wait, it gets better:
In a sentencing memorandum, the U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that Charles Aragon was sentenced to three years in prison after his 1978 conviction for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. In late 1990, five years after parole ended for the earlier conviction, he became part of the Mexican Mafia and operated a large-scale drug trafficking organization that moved more than 22,000 pounds of marijuana over several years through the U.S. In 1992, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in that conspiracy.
Just think… he twice managed to go ten years without getting caught. I guess some legislators would argue he should have had his record expunged because he was a changed man.