All but nine states have taken steps since 2009 to limit the damage that having a criminal record can cause for those who have already served time, according to a new report from the Vera Institute of Justice.
An individual’s criminal history can disrupt access to social benefits, limit employment opportunities and certain civil rights, but between 2009 and 2014, 41 states and the District of Columbia passed 155 bills designed “to mitigate the burden of collateral consequences for individuals with certain criminal convictions,” according to the report.
Researchers for the report right that “states have pursued seven broad approaches” to “rethinking the collateral consequences of conviction”:
- Creating or expanding remedies aimed at sealing or expunging criminal records.
- Issuing certificates of recovery so that third parties, such as employers and landlords, can make better-informed decisions about individuals with criminal records who have met certain rehabilitative standards.
- Allowing for offense downgrades, such as from a felony to a misdemeanor, to eligible individuals.
- Building relief into the criminal justice system, such as deferred prosecution or adjudication programs.
- Easing employment-related collateral consequences or removing licensing restrictions.
- Improving access to information about collateral consequences for convicted individuals.
- Mitigating specific collateral consequences, such as restrictions on housing, public benefits, or adoption.
Read the full report HERE.