How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records
— By Rebecca Vallas and Sharon Dietrich
Between 70 million and 100 million Americans—or as many as one in three—have a criminal record. Many have only minor offenses, such as misdemeanors and non-serious infractions; others have only arrests without conviction. Nonetheless, because of the rise of technology and the ease of accessing data via the Internet—in conjunction with federal and state policy decisions—having even a minor criminal history now carries lifelong barriers that can block successful re-entry and participation in society. This has broad implications—not only for the millions of individuals who are prevented from moving on with their lives and becoming productive citizens but also for their families, communities, and the national economy.
Today, a criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence of poverty. It is a cause because having a criminal record can present obstacles to employment, housing, public assistance, education, family reunification, and more; convictions can result in monetary debts as well. It is a consequence due to the growing criminalization of poverty and homelessness …