Ramsey, Washington counties to make it easier for ex-offenders to expunge their records

The effort is designed to help rehabilitated residents to get ahead in their lives.
John Choi, Pete Orput, Keith Ellison.

County attorneys Pete Orput (second left) and John Choi (center) were joined by Minnesota AG Keith Ellison (second right) at the Thursday press conference.

A new initiative launched by Ramsey and Washington counties on Thursday will help east-metro residents with criminal pasts expunge their records.

The two counties have launched the online resource www.helpsealmyrecord.org, where county residents who have been convicted of and punished for low-level crimes are able to apply to have their criminal records sealed.

This would make the records inaccessible to the public unless by court order, with county attorneys John Choi (Ramsey) and Pete Orput (Washington) saying that a criminal record too often presents a barrier to jobs, housing, and education, and prevents people "from serving as productive members of our community."

The problem with the current system, the county attorneys say, is that the process of applying to have your record sealed is "confusing, cumbersome and expensive," and as such is a step that only those with the means and the access to expertise can afford to pursue.

"By proactively helping people who have done everything we have asked of them in the criminal justice system to seal their criminal records, we are transforming our approach to ensure our residents have access to justice, increasing their likelihood of success," said Choi.

People with past crimes including 5th-degree possession, theft, damage to property, forgery crimes, card fraud and mail theft are eligible to have their records expunged.

Sign up: Subscribe to our daily newsletters

What's more, FBI statistics say that almost one in three adults in America has a criminal record, and the county attorneys say that of those who do get their records sealed, "very few commit new crimes and, on average, they experience a significant increase in wages and employment within the next two years."

“The expungement process is confusing, cumbersome and expensive – by helping people determine if they qualify and appealing to the court to seal the records of those who do, we are removing these burdens for our residents,” said Orput. 

"As prosecutors, we must recognize that restoring people to productive members of our community when they do well is equally important as administering consequences when they commit crimes.”

Next Up

Jamal Mashburn Jr. / Gopher basketball

Gophers offense disappears in loss to Northwestern

The Gophers are quickly falling out of NCAA tournament contention.

Malik Beasley

Timberwolves Malik Beasley suspended 12 games for offseason incident

Beasley was sentenced to 120 days in jail earlier this month.

Russell Wilson

Vikings fans should REALLY hope Russell Wilson doesn't go to the Bears

Wilson has a 6-0 record against Minnesota and could be on his way to the NFC North.


Celebrated Minnesota musician Peter Ostroushko dies

Ostroushko, who learned his craft in the Ukrainian community of Northeast Minneapolis, had a versatile career including performances with popular artists and orchestras


Costco will bump its minimum wage to $16 next week

The company, which has 12 stores in Minnesota, is pushing ahead of retailers Target and Amazon with its new minimum wage

Seth Green/Gopher Football

Gophers wildcat QB Seth Green announces decision to transfer

Green will have immediate eligibility as a graduate transfer.

Minneapolis skyline

Minneapolis pays 3 times more than it receives in state funds, new report says

This report comes as state lawmakers are debating proposals opponents say would "bail out" the state's largest city.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: Is Kirk Cousins' contract extension helping or hurting the Vikings?

Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.

University of minnesota sign

U of M gets $5M donation for new center to address racial inequality in healthcare

Using a donation from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, the School of Public Health will work to address racial disparities in healthcare.


Dakota, Washington, Ramsey counties team up to fight prescription drug abuse

A coalition of law enforcers and prosecutors in the east metro hopes that focusing on early intervention and prevention will help stem a growing problem that prison time cannot seem to stop.

Screen Shot 2019-10-15 at 3.09.30 PM

Ramsey Co. Sheriff looks to ID suspect in 3 sex assaults, home invasion

The man is believed to be the suspect in all reported incidents.

Ramsey county sheriff's office

Charges: Video shows Ramsey Co. sergeant stealing during bedroom search

The 45-year-old is facing charges including misconduct in public office.

Blake Huffman

Ramsey County commissioner resigns over nonprofit conflict of interest

Blake Huffman ran into difficulties with his housing nonprofit.

Grey Cloud Island

2 of 3 occupants of crashed plane in Washington County recovered

Search conditions continue to be difficult due to the depth and debris from the wreckage.

Ramsey County sheriff's deputy charged with drunk-driving

The 26-year-old woman from Maplewood is facing two charges.