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Sahly: What Shaw Media is doing to help readers with expungement

We’re doing something unprecedented here at Shaw Media Illinois in the name of service to our readers. We now have an online portal where people can have their names removed from police reports if their records have been expunged.

A poor decision or an arrest can follow you long after you’ve paid your debt to society.

We’ve heard from readers about how they made a poor choice years earlier, which led to an arrest that ended up in their local newspaper’s police reports.

Years later, they find themselves applying for a job or signing a housing contract, or students are searching for their teacher’s name online, and there it is – a report of an arrest from five, 10 or 15 years ago.

The public records from which our police reports are compiled are newsworthy for a variety of reasons.

But there are cases where people have been arrested and later taken steps to put that behind them, including by having the record expunged – or erased from the public record.

It’s understandable that a person would be frustrated if the reports about their arrest remain online even after their arrest record has been expunged.

Next year is expected to bring a tidal wave of expungements.

Effective Jan. 1, arrests and convictions for simple possession of marijuana (less than 30 grams, or about an ounce) will be expunged in the state of Illinois. Police records will be destroyed and court records will be hidden from public view, removing the arrest from the public record.

As many as 700,000 cases will be eligible for expungement under the new law. Those whose arrest records are expunged will receive a letter to their last known address from the court to notify them.

If your name appears in a police report on one of our newspapers’ websites and your record has been expunged, we want to help you remove it. To do that, Shaw Media Illinois has created an online form so your name can be removed.

If you have documentation of an expungement, head to shawmediaillinois.com/expungement to fill out our form, and we will do our best to remove your name within 10 business days.

Please note that this applies only to cases where records have been expunged – not those in which a person pleaded guilty and received supervision, probation or any other sentence.

Also, once a story has been removed from our website, it takes time and is out of our hands on when it is reindexed by search engines and web companies such as Google. We will submit pages to Google for reindexing upon request, but it’s up to those web companies to actually reindex the page.

Our main mission at Shaw Media Illinois is to serve the communities where we live and work. A report about an arrest for a minor infraction that’s been expunged shouldn’t stop you from being a full-fleged member of that community.

John Sahly is managing editor of digital services at Shaw Media Illinois. He can be reached at jsahly@shawmedia.com.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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