Mayor's office: Council member ‘severely mistaken’ about plan to expunge criminal records

During Monday's public safety committee meeting, Atlanta City Council member Antonio Lewis demanded answers from the city’s chief judge about why he hasn’t begun purging criminal records like the council voted to do. 

"There’s a disconnect because my office passed legislation in the city of Atlanta to expunge everything five years or older for city ordinances. For you to not know about it as part of the disconnect," Lewis told Chief Judge Christopher Portis at the meeting. "Something needs fixing with this mayor and on the city council."

But when FOX 5 asked about the purported disconnect, Mayor Andre Dickens' press secretary said that’s never what the resolution he signed entailed.

"Council member Lewis was severely mistaken about what the resolution passed by city council actually does," said Michael Smith, Dickens’ press secretary, in an email. "It does not provide for expungement of city ordinance convictions—it asks the chief judge, the municipal court administrator, and the city solicitor to coordinate with the department of law to establish and promulgate a process by which persons who have been charged with non-violent offenses in the municipal court of Atlanta may efficiently seek the restriction of the records of these offenses in accordance with state law."

Lewis said at the meeting that such records create obstacles for people trying to get jobs and housing. 

"Some folks, they don’t even apply to be our sanitation worker, our trash ban in the city because they are afraid the potential will show up on that background check," Lewis added. 


While it was unclear if Portis was aware of the new resolution, he committed to starting on it.

"[Ordinance violations] should not be for the most part be on the criminal histories as far as an initiative to work on clearing them if they are, that’s something everybody on my side would be supportive of," he said.

After FOX 5 started asking questions, the mayor's office said they contacted the chief judge to make sure everyone is on the same page about what the resolution does and does not say. 

Council member Lewis has not yet responded to these developments.