1,500 criminals with sealed records in Texas rearrested

AUSTIN (AP) - About 1,500 convicted criminals in Texas given a fresh start by getting their court records shielded -- were arrested again over the past two years.

The Dallas Morning News did an analysis of state records, secured under Texas public information laws.

The newspaper reports the arrest of the 1,500 is about 11% of the number of first-time nonviolent convicts granted deferred adjudication under a 2003 sealed records law.

Under the law, the records are sealed from most employers, apartment managers and those not in law enforcement as long as they stayed out of trouble.

State Sen. Royce West of Dallas says it's sound public policy to give people a second chance.

At West's request, the Department of Public Safety tracked the behavior of those who invoked the law to determine whether the program was working.

DPS says of 14,116 offenders granted the "nondisclosure order," 1,544 were charged with new crimes in 2006 and 2007. About 250 of those new crimes were violent, including six murders or manslaughters and 100 family member assaults.