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December 14, 2017
"Second Chance Reforms in 2017: Roundup of new expungement and restoration laws"
The title of this post is the title of this notable new publication from the Collateral Consequences Resource Center documenting how states are, in various ways, expanding opportunities to avoid or mitigate the adverse effects of a criminal record. Here is the report's executive summary following the start of its "overview" section:
The national trend toward expanding opportunities for restoration of rights and status after conviction, first documented in Four Years of Second Chance Reforms, 2013 – 2016, has accelerated in 2017. In the past year, 23 states broadened existing second chance laws or enacted entirely new ones, enhancing the prospects for successful reentry and reintegration for many thousands of Americans. Some of these laws significantly expanded the availability of relief, while others involved relatively minor changes to existing law.
The most frequent type of reform involved limiting public access to criminal records: new sealing or expungement laws were enacted in several states that previously had none, eligibility requirements were relaxed for many existing record-sealing authorities, and new limits were imposed on access to non-conviction and juvenile records -- all making it easier for more individuals to get relief at an earlier date. However, there is remarkably little consistency among state record-closing schemes, and most states extend relief only to less serious offenses after lengthy eligibility waiting periods. Moreover, eligibility criteria are frequently so complex as to defeat the sharpest legal minds. Other recurring reforms limit employer inquiries into criminal history at the application stage. A few states enacted administratively enforceable standards for consideration of criminal history in employment and licensing. To date there has been very little empirical research into the relative effectiveness of different forms of relief, so it is perhaps not surprising that experimentation seems to be the order of the day.
This report documents changes in state restoration laws in 2017, many of which are quite significant. It is based on research from the Restoration of Rights Project (RRP), an online resource maintained by the CCRC that catalogs and analyzes the restoration laws of all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the federal system. Following an overview of 2017 reforms, specific changes to the law in each state are briefly described along with relevant citations. More detailed information about each state’s laws is available in the RRP state profiles.
• In 2017, 23 states enacted laws aimed at reducing barriers faced by people with criminal records in the workplace and elsewhere. Some of these laws significantly expanded the availability of relief, while others involved relatively minor changes to existing laws.
• Most of the new laws involved either restrictions on public access to records or limits on employer inquiries into criminal history. A few states enacted administratively enforceable standards for consideration of criminal history in employment and licensing.
• Important new record-sealing schemes were enacted in Illinois, Montana and New York, and nine other states either relaxed eligibility requirements or otherwise supplemented their existing sealing or expungement authorities to make relief more broadly available at an earlier date. Of these nine, the most ambitious reforms were enacted by Nevada, which was one of several states that created a presumption in favor of relief for eligible persons.
• Seven states enacted substantial revisions to their juvenile expungement and sealing laws in 2017, some of which require courts to order relief automatically after a brief waiting period.
• Ten states enacted state-wide “ban-the-box” laws limiting inquiries into criminal record by public employers at preliminary stages of the hiring process. California, Connecticut and Vermont extended these limits to private employers as well.
• In California and Nevada, restrictions on application-stage inquiries are part of a broader nondiscrimination scheme that prohibits consideration of certain kinds of criminal records, and establishes standards for individualized determinations in all other cases. Both states provide additional procedural protections.
• While reforms are moving at a fast pace, there is no consensus about the most effective way to avoid or mitigate the adverse effects of a criminal record, and very little relevant empirical research.
December 14, 2017 at 04:12 PM | Permalink
Is there any mention of the biggest obstacle to hiring of felons, the master servant relationship in torts? With a felony conviction, all such claims will be compounded by a negligent hiring claim by the tort plaintiff bar. If a state is sincere about this reform, let it change its licensing regulations, and prove that felons did not have any more problems than other kinds of people. Immunize employers from such claims, and hiring will improve.
PA has a law restricting discrimination against felons, only if the convicted crime was relevant to the job. No pedophiles as day care workers, OK as cashiers. No thieves as cashiers, OK in daycare. The problem is the immorality of the person, and criminals do not specialize. So this law is wish fulfillment and not true.
Posted by: David Behar | Dec 14, 2017 6:03:05 PM
These guys deserve a sentencing break.
Posted by: David Behar | Dec 15, 2017 1:26:21 AM