Approximately 77 million Americans, or 1 in every 3 adults, have a criminal record. A criminal record—which can be an arrest record, criminal charges, or a conviction—creates barriers to jobs, occupational licensing, housing, and higher education opportunities.
For those who have been recently released from incarceration, the challenges and barriers are even more substantial. Each year, more than 600,000 inmates are released from state and federal correctional facilities and transition back into the community. Another 11 million individuals cycle through local jails each year. Lack of employment, housing, and other support systems upon reentry increases the likelihood of continued involvement in the criminal justice system—at a significant cost to the individual, the justice system, and the community.
State legislatures are playing a key role in evaluating collateral consequences of a criminal record and ascertaining policies that help released offenders successfully transition back into the community.