Expungement applications drop in 2020

The number of people seeking to clear their criminal records dropped by almost half last year, Deputy Governor Franz Manderson told Parliament Thursday as he tabled the Cayman Islands Expungement Board’s 2020 annual report.

He attributed the decrease over 2019 to the pandemic.

The annual report for 2019, tabled last year, stated that 52 applications were submitted to the board, of which 29 requests were deemed eligible and approved.

“In contrast, the annual report for 2020 indicates 23 applications were made to the board [and], of these, 21 were deemed eligible and approved by the board,” he told legislators.

In 2018, of the six applications submitted, only one applicant was deemed to be eligible to have their criminal record expunged.

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The members of the Cayman Islands Expungement Board, from left, Pastor Alson Ebanks, Marilyn Brandt, Kayleigh Wright and Hugh Lockwood.

Manderson said the most common reason for refusals was that the applications did not meet the criteria set out by the legislation so were deemed ineligible.

The clearing of convictions is made possible through the Criminal Records (Spent Convictions) Law, which gives individuals a chance for a clean start.

Certain crimes like treason, murder and child pornography are exempted from expungement.

Manderson, quoting board chairman Marilyn Brandt in her summary, said a benefit derived from criminal record expungement is the elimination of discrimination against those who have been deemed to be rehabilitated.

“Expungement is an enormously valuable remedy because it ensures that individuals are not wrongfully denied opportunities because of mistakes made in the past. While it is accepted that expungement does not address all the challenges faced by those who have been criminally convicted, it is an essential mechanism because of the life-changing benefits it could offer,” he said.

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