Does Clean Slate law need changing?

Stuff reports:

Job seeker Eric Knight calls himself a “jack of all trades and a master of none” but a 34-year-old conviction for burglary is preventing him from finding any work, he says.

The 52-year-old is calling on the Government to amend the Clean Slate Act to include convictions that are more than two decades old and for which less than a year of jail time was served. 

The Criminal Records Act, otherwise known as the Clean Slate Act, currently allows people to conceal convictions dating back seven years or more – providing they aren’t serious offences and didn’t result in jail time.

I have sympathy for Mr Knight, but not sure a law change is the answer.

As an employer I’d not hold a 34 year old conviction against an applicant, if they had been crime free for 34 years. I doubt many employers would. So it may not be the conviction that is stopping work being found.

He committed two burglaries after a “s*** upbringing” which saw him “pushed from pillar to post”, and served a year in jail when he was 18.

But after meeting the woman who would later become his wife, Knight says he never committed another crime, nor did he want to. 

“Yes I have a police record, that was 30 years ago, I’m a totally different person to who I was then,” he says.

“The problem is that I got sentenced to a term of imprisonment and that’s where the law has said ‘once a criminal, always a criminal’ [but] I am living proof that 30 years later a leopard can change his spots, and I’m not the only one.”

It is great he has turned his life around. But again I’m unsure a law change hiding the truth from employers is the answer, as opposed to relying on employers to use common sense.

Comments (26)

Login to comment or vote