Hundreds of criminals in Texas whose records were sealed under a 2003 law have gone on to face new charges in the past two years, "including a handful" of cases of murder and rape, The Dallas Morning News reported today.
The newspaper filed a request for the statistics under the state public information law. Of an estimated 14,000 offenders who had their records sealed, The Morning News found that more than 1,500 were subsequently charged with new crimes.
Under the "seal" law, the newspaper reports, for $28, certain categories of nonviolent offenders can ask a judge to seal their records from public view.
One attorney argued that the Morning News findings show the law has been a success, because the overwhelming majority of offenders were not rearrested. But Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, while holding that some information should be sealed, remarked that the paper had uncovered "a pretty high level of recidivism for a category that the Legislature was claiming were rehabilitated and not a danger to society anymore."