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IN Senate committee to consider Class D felony conversion bill

Under a bill currently in the state Senate people who commit Class D felonies could have their crimes converted to misdemeanors 3 years after conviction. 

The legislation would allow offenders with non-violent, non-sex related D felonies to apply to a judge for conversion to a Class A misdemeanor. That change means they could truthfully say they hadn’t been convicted of a felony when applying for a job.

State Representative Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) authored the bill. He says with unemployment still high, employers often use the felony question as a screener for applicants.

“They often do that without looking into what the actual felony was and so if we can remove that barrier for those folks who are trying to get back to work when it’s appropriate, I think it would help those folks get jobs.”

Opponents of the bill say judges’ initial rulings should be respected.  They have also raised concerns  about the potential for courts to become overloaded with conversion requests.

However, State Senator Brent Steele (R-Bedford) says he doesn’t share that concern. He's sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

“I’m not saying our courts aren’t busy.  I practice in the five counties around Lawrence County and I look at their schedule and I’m pretty familiar with it and I think they can find room.  I don’t see them being that jammed up.”

The Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters is considering the bill. A hearing on the proposal is expected Tuesday.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.