12.22.22 – KOCO
A new law allows Oklahomans with low-level criminal records to have these expunged with a simple automated system.
Tiffany Mason said her life and her future were changed decades ago because of one poor choice.
“Back in 1994, I obtained money under false pretense and false impersonation,” said Mason.
Although she served her time and paid her debts, Mason said the felony impacted everything she did for years. Mason said her criminal record stopped her from getting certain jobs and even securing housing.
This eventually made it difficult for her to house her kids.
“It was always, ‘Oh, she got this felony,'” said Mason. “They didn’t care what it was for. It’s just the fact that you had a felony.”
A charge that happened over 20 years ago became a scarlet letter on her record. Nearly a decade ago, she tried to clear her record herself.
“I tried to do it myself,” said Mason. “I didn’t have five grand.”
State Rep. Nicole Miller said this is a common problem across Oklahoma.
Miller decided Oklahoma needed to move in a different direction. During the last legislative session, she worked to push through HB 3316.
“We have about 100,000 Oklahomans who would be eligible for an expungement under the automated system,” said Miller.
The Clean Slate Initiative saw overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle, and it was signed into law. Officials are now working on the rollout of the automated system.
“We’re struggling with workforce, and it makes sense to get Oklahomans back to work,” said Miller.
Now that her record is expunged, Mason said she can breathe for the first time.
“I don’t have nothing hanging over my head,” said Mason. “It’s just been a relief.”
Miller said once the system is running, there will be marketing campaigns and outreach events to help spread the word to those who are eligible for the automated expungement process.