Ex-felons get a little break in bill passed by Tennessee lawmakers

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Potentially thousands of Tennesseans who paid their debt for low-level crimes are getting help with expunging their records.

“It’s going to reduce the felony expunction fee,” says Memphis Rep. Raumesh Akbari, who co-sponsored a measure passed this session that reduces that fee from $350 to $180.

Along with Senate sponsor Mark Norris, Rep. Akbari says they both know people who have been hurt financially by the $350 fee to expunge records from non-violent crimes committed years ago.

Rep. Raumesh Akbari (Photo: WKRN)

“Especially if you are facing a situation where you cannot get a job,” she told News 2. “It’s is a mountain of money, and it’s a financial barrier, one that I think this legislation will remove, in part.”

The reduced expunction fee is not for just any past felon. The crime has to be non-violent, such as shoplifting or a drug arrest, says Akbari.

Those eligible for the lower expunction fee need to have made restitution and served time for a crime at least five years in the past.

Rep. Akbari spoke of the people it will help.

“You are talking about people who are just surviving,” added the lawmaker. “They are not thriving. They don’t have a lot of money at the end of the month.

Before the bill passed, Tennessee had the third highest fee in the country for expunging records. With that fee cut in half, potentially thousands of Tennesseans will get a little break after paying their debt to society.