Here is a collection of useful links we have put together which deal in different ways with criminal history records. Find links to websites concerning expungement, record sealing, criminal record background checks, ex-offender employment, executive clemency, restoration of civil rights, juvenile criminal record sealing, re-entry services and related topics.
After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry
A comprehensive catalog of the legal barriers each state imposes in areas of employment, housing, benefits, voting, access to criminal records, parenting, and driving.
Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions
100 million U.S. adults, or nearly one-third of the population, have a criminal record of some sort. Recognizing that there are significant barriers to securing housing because of their criminal history, HUD stated that when “individuals are released from prisons and jails, their ability to access safe, secure and affordable housing is critical to their successful reentry to society.”
Army Criminal History Waivers
An applicant’s criminal and “moral” history plays a large role on whether or not they are eligible to join the United States Army. It’s important to note here that federal law requires applicants to divulge all criminal history on recruiting applications, including expunged, sealed, or juvenile records. Additionally, in most states, such records are accessible to military investigators, regardless of what you have heard to the contrary. Some offenses can be waived, and others cannot. Different offenses require waiver approval at different levels in the recruiting chain-of-command.
Background Checks: Tips For Job Applicants and Employees
Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Information
Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know
A joint publication of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Federal Trade Commission
Bonds for Jobs
The Federal Bonding Program for employers of ex-offenders.
Boxed Out: Criminal History Screening and College Application Attrition (2015)
Published by the Center for Community Alternatives, a community-based nonprofit organization which promotes reintegrative justice and a reduced reliance on incarceration, and the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, a national, nonpartisan collaborative of advocates working to remove barriers to higher education faced by students with criminal convictions while in prison and in the community.
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice. The Center’s work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from ending mass incarceration to preserving Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism.
California Reentry Program serves more than 200 men at San Quentin Prison monthly, and recruits and trains almost 100 new volunteers from the community each year.
Chrysalis is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find and retain employment.
Criminal Background and Job Performance (2016) A Northwestern University study of tens of thousands of hires into low-skill white-collar jobs found that hires with records stayed in their jobs longer and were no more likely to get fired than hires without records.
Court Records Free Reference & Directory helps you find online court records and contact information for trial courts in every state and county.
Criminal Justice Forum provides assistance to those dealing with the criminal justice system.
Criminal Justice Policy Foundation is one of the oldest drug policy reform organizations in the United States. CJPF’s mission is to educate the public about the impact of drug policy on the criminal justice system. It provides information and strategic advice to policymakers, criminal justice organizations, interest groups and the public through direct consultation, conferences, publications, the news media and blogs. It also assists drug policy reform organizations with advice on coalition-building, legal organization, management, outreach, research, and media relations.
Distributional Consequences of Expunging Juvenile Delinquency Records: The Problem of Lemons was published by the Washington University Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law in 1997.
EEOC Policy Guidance: A Mental Health Impact Assessment was published in April of 2013 by the Adler School’s Institute on Social Exclusion and studies the predicted impacts on the mental health of residents of Chicago’s Englewood community due to changes in federal policy guidance on the use of arrest records in employment decisions. It answers the question: What is the impact upon the mental health of a community when employers use arrest records in making employment decisions about members of that community?
Effect of Employer Access to Criminal History Data on the Labor Market Outcomes of Ex-Offenders and Non-Offenders
Labor market outcomes are worse for ex-offenders once state criminal history records become available over the Internet.
Effect of Non-Payment of Restitution on Restoration of Civil Rights and Ability to Expunge Conviction
State-by-state chart prepared by the National Center for Victims of Crime in 2011. Not entirely accurate or complete, but a good starting point for reference.
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization fighting for smart sentencing laws that protect public safety.
Federal Bureau of Investigation: Criminal Background Check
An FBI Identification Record—often referred to as a criminal history record or a “rap sheet”—is a listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI in connection with arrests and, in some instances, federal employment, naturalization, or military service. The process of responding to an Identification Record request is generally known as a criminal background check.
Federal Statutes Imposing Collateral Consequences Upon Conviction was published in 2000 by the United States Department of Justice.
Federal Student Aid: Students with criminal convictions have limited eligibility for federal student aid. Make sure you understand your status, and don’t assume you can’t get aid.
Felon Voting: ProCon.Org An estimated 5.85 million people (as of 2010) with a felony conviction are barred from voting in elections – a condition known as disenfranchisement.
G.R. Dickerson v. New Banner Institute; U.S. Supreme Court Decision
Expunction under state law does not alter the legality of the previous conviction, does not open the way to a license despite the conviction, and does not signify that the defendant was innocent of the crime to which he pleaded guilty. Expunction in Iowa means no more than that the State has provided a means for the trial court not to accord a conviction certain continuing effects under state law.
Gubernatorial Clemency Powers: Justice or Mercy? Published in Criminal Justice, Volume 24, Number 3, Fall 2009. A comprehensive analysis of pardons with a state-by-state summary of laws & procedures for a gubernatorial pardon.
How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated?
Brennan Center for Justice (2016)
How Much Does Expungement Cost?
Hiring an attorney to handle an expungement starts around $400-$1,000 for a single criminal charge but can run $1,000-$4,000 or more depending on the number and nature (misdemeanor or felony) of the charges, prevailing local legal rates and the status and experience of the attorney. Court costs and filing fees can add another $100-$400 or more, depending on location and how much other paperwork or research is needed.
Identity Theft: Federal Trade Commission chart of state laws requiring the expungement and correction of inaccurate information from the records of an identity theft victim.
In Our Own Backyard: Confronting Growth and Disparities in American Jails Vera Institute of Justice (December 2015)
In Search of Redemption: Expungement of Federal Criminal Records
Seton Hall University (2013)
The Journal of Offender Rehabilitation is a multidisciplinary journal of innovation in research, services and programs in criminal justice and corrections. This refereed journal is an essential professional resource for practitioners, educators and researchers who work with individuals involved in the criminal justice system and study the dynamics of rehabilitation and individual and system change.
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange is the only publication covering juvenile justice and related issues in the Southeast and around the nation on a consistent, daily basis.
Law Help Interactive creates legal forms and documents. People are asked a series of questions, and then their answers are used to tailor their documents. This free site is used by legal aid advocates, pro bono lawyers, and people representing themselves.
Mass Incarceration and Children’s Outcomes is a 2017 report from the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute which found that parental incarceration leads to an array of cognitive and noncognitive
outcomes known to affect children’s performance in school. Therefore, the discriminatory incarceration of African American parents makes an important contribution to the racial achievement gap. Educators hoping to narrow the achievement gap should make criminal justice reform a policy priority.
National Association of Professional Background Screeners
Founded in 2003 as a non-profit trade association, NAPBS serves to represent the interest of companies offering tenant, employment and background screening.
National Center for Youth Law: Using the law to improve the lives of poor children
The National Consumer Law Center is a nonprofit advocacy organization that seeks to build economic security and family wealth for low-income and other economically disadvantaged Americans. It promotes access to quality financial services and protects family assets from unfair and exploitive transactions that wipe out resources and undermine self-sufficiency. For over 40 years NCLC has used its expertise to write the rules of a fair marketplace.
National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction
The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction—legal sanctions and restrictions imposed upon people because of their criminal record—are hard to find and harder to understand. Now it will be easier to do both. Congress directed the National Institute of Justice to collect and study collateral consequences in all U.S. jurisdictions, and NIJ selected the ABA Criminal Justice Section to perform the necessary research and analysis. The results are now being made available through this interactive tool.
The mission of the National Resource Center on Justice-Involved Women is to provide guidance and support to criminal justice professionals – and to promote evidence-based, gender-responsive policies and practices – in order to reduce the number and improve the outcomes of women involved in the criminal justice system.
One Strike and You’re Out: How We Can Eliminate Barriers to Economic Security and Mobility for People with Criminal Records
Center for American Progress (2014)
Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform examines what research does exist on women in jail in order to begin to reframe the conversation to include them. It offers a portrait of women in jail, explores how jail can deepen the societal disadvantages they face, and provides insight into what drives women’s incarceration and ways to reverse the trend. Published by the Vera Institute of Justice and the Safety and Justice Challenge in August of 2016.
A statistical analysis of nearly 500 pardon applicants during the Bush administration suggests that advocacy makes a difference. Applicants with a member of Congress in their corner were three times as likely to win a pardon as those without such backing. Interviews and documents show a lawmaker’s support can speed up a stalled application, counter negative information and ratchet up pressure for an approval.
A ProPublica analysis of presidential pardons published Sunday revealed a pattern of racial disparities in pardon awards. The review found that white applicants were nearly four times as likely to receive pardons as all minorities combined. Congressional influence did not account for the racial disparity.
The Price We Pay: Economic Costs of Barriers to Employment for Former Prisoners and People Convicted of Felonies examines the impact of former prisoners and those with felony convictions on the economy.
The Prison Arts Coalition serves as a national network for prison arts in the United States.
The consequences of conviction – specific legal barriers, generalized discrimination, and social stigma – have become more numerous and severe, more public, and more permanent. The legal mechanisms relied on in the past to restore rights and status – pardons, expungements, certificates of good conduct — have atrophied or become ineffective, with the result that a significant percentage of the American public is permanently consigned to second class citizenship.
NACDL has several projects aimed at examining the collateral consequences of these convictions. The goal is to provide policy recommendations and laud existing best practices that jurisdictions can engage in to effectively decrease the economic, political, and social stigmas associated with a criminal conviction.
SEARCH is a multifaceted organization focused on helping identify and solve the information management and information sharing challenges facing justice and public safety organizations at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels.
What are the pitfalls of conducting background investigations on job applicants?
Be careful! You could learn lots of information that is irrelevant to the hiring decision and, worse yet, could subject you to litigation. Information regarding a past divorce could result in a marital-status discrimination claim. Learning about a past race discrimination lawsuit could lead to a race bias or retaliation lawsuit. Gathering information about past workers’ compensation claims could trigger a disability discrimination lawsuit.
Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families is a national community-driven research project. The research presented in this report was led by the collaborative efforts of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
The Working Poor Families Project is a national initiative focused on state workforce development policies involving: 1) education and skills training for adults; 2) economic development; and 3) income and work supports.
Working Ahead: A Guide for Connecting Youth Offenders with Employment Opportunities (2004) Although this guidebook was written to provide specific guidance to case managers who work with individuals involved in the juvenile or adult criminal justice systems in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Region 6 (which includes AK, AR, CA, HI, ID, NV, OR, and WA), it provides invaluable information and guidance that is useful and relevant to any practitioner working with job seekers affected by the criminal justice system in the United States.