tobon

STATE HOUSE – Rep. Carlos E. Tobon will reintroduce legislation in the
upcoming 2016 General Assembly session supporting the ‘Fitting the
Description’ movement and requiring law enforcement to automatically
destroy all arrest records for those who are victims of mistaken or
wrongful arrests. Representative Tobon’s legislation passed the House
of Representatives last year but did not pass the Senate.

“This is common sense legislation that has sadly been ignored for far
too long, adversely affecting too many people and creating more unneeded
division between law enforcement and the public,” said Representative
Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket). “Upstanding citizens should not have
arrest records that follow them throughout their lives because they
unfairly ‘fit the description’ of a criminal. Rhode Island needs this
change in law before more innocent people are subjected to the stigma of
having unwarranted arrest records, possibly hampering their employment
or living situations.”

“Fitting The Description” is a non-profit organization established to
build awareness of the countless number of individuals who are
wrongfully detained or arrested because they fit the description.
Charles Belk, the founder of the organization and victim of mistaken
arrest, is rallying support of state legislators to introduce “auto
erase” legislation to automatically erase the arrest records of innocent
individuals that are wrongfully arrested because they were mistakenly
indentified.

“It brings me great honor that Representative Tobon is reintroducing
this legislation. I watched similar #AutoErase bills get signed into law
in both North Carolina and Illinois this year, and truly look forward to
Rhode Island becoming the third state to do so as early in 2016 as
possible!” said Charles Belk, founder of Fitting the Description.

Representative Tobon’s bill would require the sealing and destruction of
all arrest records and indices of arrest for those persons who are
wrongfully arrested or detained by any law enforcement agency. It would
also provide that the arrest not be disclosed for any purpose and would
mandate that the arresting agency notify the arrestee/detainee of the
determination that the arrest/detention was wrongful and case of
mistaken identity.