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April 6, 2021

"A Reintegration Agenda for the 117th Congress: Criminal Record Relief, Federal Benefits, & Employment"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new short report from the Collateral Consequences Resource Center.  This blog posting at CCRC, titled "Second Chance Month: A Federal Reintegration Agenda" provides some background on the report.  Here is the report's introduction:

The new Congress has an opportunity to make significant bipartisan progress on criminal justice reform, including reducing barriers to successful reintegration for people with a criminal record. This agenda recommends specific measures by which Congress can accomplish this.

During the wave of criminal record reform that began around 2013, every state legislature has taken some steps to chip away at the negative effects of a record, thereby supporting opportunities to earn a living, access public benefits, education, and housing, regain voting rights, and otherwise reintegrate into society.  Many states have entirely remade their record relief systems — authorizing or expanding expungement, sealing, set-aside, certificates of relief, and/or deferred adjudication — and limited the consideration of arrest and conviction records in employment and licensing.

Congress has belatedly become interested in the reintegration agenda, limiting background checks in federal employment and contracting in 2019, and removing some barriers to public benefits in 2020. However, many federal barriers remain, and individuals with federal records have no access to the kind of relief mechanisms now available in most states.

During the pandemic, the need to access opportunities and resources has been perhaps unprecedented. We therefore urge Congress and the Biden Administration to take an ambitious and bipartisan approach to criminal record reforms in the four areas described below:

  • Record relief: Authorize federal courts to expunge certain records, grant certificates of relief, and increase use to deferred adjudication; give effect to state relief in federal law; prohibit dissemination of certain records by background screeners and the FBI; and, provide relief from firearms dispossession.
  • Federal public benefits: End record-related restrictions in financial assistance to small businesses, SNAP and TANF benefits, and student aid.
  • Employment & licensing: Establish enforceable standards for consideration of criminal record in federal employment and contracting, and limit record-based restrictions in federally-regulated occupations.
  • Voting rights: Allow voting in federal elections regardless of a person's criminal record unless currently incarcerated for a felony conviction.

April 6, 2021 at 10:13 AM | Permalink


I am a Prison Wife in Cincinnati, Ohio! I am trying to get my husband's criminal records expunged and sealed. He was released in Nov. 2020. I am so thrilled to find your blog and let me offer my round of applause for your work and effort! You are appreciated! I would be so pleased to stay in contact with you! I send you my warmest wishes and motivation to keep up your good work- you are changing my life for the better, and many other lives will also benefit from your care and effort. Your mind is a beautiful gift and I am so glad to know you have found a way to share your knowledge and expertise with the world, to make our world a better place for all of us. Thank you for you generosity, kindness, attention to detail and intense focus. What you are doing really does matter to those of us who would be lost without you. I have had to learn as I go through this nightmare alone, I've met so many wonderful advocates and I now add you to my list of new friends. I would be so honored to shake your hand, and meet you, whenever the opportunity presents itself. If you're ever in Cincinnati, Ohio please don't hesitate to look me up, I would be glad to have dinner with you and pick your brain. I hope to establish a lasting connection of friendship and solidarity.

Posted by: Natalie Spencer | Apr 12, 2021 12:57:13 PM

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