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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  

Ericka B. Adams

North Central College - Department of Sociology

Elsa Y. Chen

Santa Clara University

Rosella Chapman

Santa Clara University

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Adams, Ericka B. and Chen, Elsa Y. and Chapman, Rosella, Erasing the Mark of a Criminal Past: Ex-Offenders’ Expectations and Experiences with Record Clearance (2016). 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.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3032667

Ericka B. Adams

North Central College - Department of Sociology

IL
United States

Elsa Y. Chen (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University ( email )

Department of Political Science
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

Rosella Chapman

Santa Clara University

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

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