The Reintegration Agenda During Pandemic: Criminal Record Reforms in 2020
Date:  01-24-2021

In 2020, 32 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government enacted 106 legislative bills, approved 5 ballot initiatives, and issued 4 executive orders to restore rights and opportunities to people with a criminal record
From the Collateral Consequences Resource Center:

In each of the past five years, CCRC has issued an end-of-year report on legislative efforts to reduce barriers faced by people with a criminal record in the workplace, at the ballot box, and in many other areas of daily life.1 These reports document the progress of what has become a full-fledged law reform movement intended to restore individuals’ rights and status following their navigation of the criminal law system, facilitating reintegration into society.

This reintegration reform movement is grounded in the circumstance that almost a third of adult Americans now have a criminal record, entangling them in a web of legal restrictions and discrimination that can permanently disable them. It reflects a recognition that this is not only unsafe and inefficient, it is also profoundly unfair.

Since 2013, every state legislature has taken at least some steps to chip away at the negative effects of a criminal record on the ability to earn a living, to access housing, education, and public benefits, and otherwise to fully reintegrate into society. Some states have entirely remade their post-sentence relief systems. Some state governors have also issued executive orders or class-wide pardons in support of this restoration effort. Congress also has rather belatedly become interested in criminal records issues, limiting background checks in federal employment and contracting in 2019, and removing barriers to public benefits in 2020 spurred by the effects of the pandemic.

The past year saw a continuation of these legislative trends. While fewer states enacted fewer laws in 2020 than in the preceding two years, evidently because of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the fact that there was still considerable progress is testament to a genuine and enduring public commitment to a reintegration agenda. Continue reading >>>