About a third of all Americans have a criminal record; less than 5 percent for violent crimes. Those of us who don’t have records are probably aware of some of the consequences, like fines, probation, jail time and parole. We may not be aware of collateral consequences that affect employment, public assistance, housing and voting rights. For example, ex-felons earn about 40 percent less annually than non- felons.
Several new laws take effect tomorrow that could allow Marylanders with criminal records to expunge or shield from public view certain parts of them. One of the new laws would also allow actions that are no longer crimes, like possession of small amounts of marijuana, to be removed from peoples’ records.
With Sheilah to talk more about the new laws is Caryn Aslan, Senior Policy Advocate at the non-profit Job Opportunities Task Force. She’s spent years lobbying in Annapolis to adopt laws to make it possible for people with a record to remove those marks. Joining them is Danielle. She’s 37, has 7 children and a criminal record for an arrest that resulted in no trial and no conviction. The offense occurred during a domestic violence dispute in 2002.