Erasing the Mark of a Criminal Past: Ex-Offenders’ Expectations and Experiences with Record Clearance
Adams, Ericka, Elsa Y. Chen, and Rosella Chapman. “Erasing the Mark of a Criminal Past: Ex-Offenders’ Expectations and Experiences with Record Clearance.” Punishment & Society Volume 19, Number 1 (January 2017), p. 23-52.
41 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2017
Date Written: 2016
Through the process of record clearance, ex-offenders can have certain minor convictions removed from their criminal record or designated as expunged. This study analyzes data gathered from semi-structured interviews with 40 past offenders to examine the expectations of individuals who seek record clearance and the extent to which completion of the process facilitates efforts to reintegrate into society and desist from crime. The analysis finds that record clearance benefits ex-offenders through external effects, such as the reduction of barriers to employment, and internal processes, such as the facilitation of cognitive transformation and the affirmation of a new identity. These benefits accrue from both the outcomes of the record clearance process and from the process itself. Increased availability of inexpensive or free opportunities for expungement can contribute to more successful reintegration of ex-offenders into the workforce, families, and communities. Not only would this improve quality of life for the ex-offenders, but it could also increase public safety and reduce public spending.
Keywords: expungement, record clearance, criminal records, re-entry, desistance
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