Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, began the process for the Legislature to consider how to erase the criminal records of petty drug offenders whose road to recovery has been blocked by criminal records that haunt them years after they’ve beaten addiction.
Stephenson said that rather than making clear what individuals might be eligible to have drug crimes cleared from their records after certain periods of sobriety, that instead his Senate Bill 182 would create a subcommittee in the Utah Substance Abuse Advisory Council that would be dedicated to studying the subject.
Ultimately, Stephenson would hope a bill in the 2013 Legislature would be able to help provide relief for recovered addicts who currently “are having a hard time restoring their lives back to normal, because employment and other issues have become serious impediments to them moving on with their lives.”
Travis Wood, a former board member of Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness, and also a recovered addict, argued that get-tough laws punishing drug offenders in taken as a whole can often times impede recovering addicts from making themselves whole again.
“You’ve heard the term the ‘road to hell is paved in good intentions?’” Wood asked the committee. “Every one of those criminal code laws has good reasons behind them, but collectively we have set up many petty drug offenders to fail.”
The bill advanced favorably from committee with a unanimous vote.
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