McEachin launches new program to help people clear police record

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 4/1/2021, 6 p.m.
Richmond residents have a new cost-free way to clear their police records of charges that resulted in acquittals or dismissals ...
Mrs. McEachin

Richmond residents have a new cost-free way to clear their police records of charges that resulted in acquittals or dismissals or were not prosecuted, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette W. McEachin has announced.

Mrs. McEachin launched the new program March 25 after the General Assembly failed to pass an expansion of the current law that blocks expungement of convictions.

She stated that people can obtain expungement petition forms at the office of Richmond Circuit Court Clerk Edward Jewett at the John Marshall Courts Building, 400 N. 9th St. in Downtown.

The petitioner can fill out two petitions for each charge to be expunged, leaving one with Mr. Jewett’s office and one at the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, which also is on the first floor of the courts building.

Mrs. McEachin stated her initiative waives the requirement that a petitioner pay a process server to deliver the paperwork to her office to simplify the process. An attorney also would not be needed, she added.

Expungement, which she supports, has been available for years for charges that did not result in convictions. Last year, 207 petitions were filed, with none rejected, she said.

“My office has the prosecutorial discretion to try to increase the number of expungements, and I am using that authority,” Mrs. McEachin stated.

The initiative has emerged as Mrs. McEachin campaigns for re-election against a Democratic primary challenger, attorney Thomas P. Barbour Jr.

Along with boosting expungement, Ms. McEachin also announced creation of a Community Justice Reform Unit in her office.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Kelli Burnett is to lead the unit that is to improve the office’s efforts to reduce mass incarceration, support victims of crime and resolve cases in a manner that is equitable and proportional to the harm, Mrs. McEachin stated.

The goal of the unit, she said, is to build on the office’s 20-year record in criminal justice reforms.

Such reforms include virtually eliminating the cash bond system for those awaiting trial and the creation of programs that seek to divert from jail first-time defendants facing non-violent charges and those with addiction, mental health and behavioral health challenges.

Mrs. McEachin stated she created the new unit to find ways to “expand the policies and initiatives already in place and dismantle institutionalized racism” in the criminal justice system.