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Tens of millions of Americans have criminal records, including about 20 million with felony convictions. Conviction records automatically trigger countless collateral legal consequences, such as occupational restrictions that bar employers from hiring qualified candidates. Moreover, research overwhelmingly shows that bearing a criminal record raises significant barriers to employment, housing, and various other opportunities. These persistent obstacles can overwhelm an individual’s efforts at reintegration and can aggravate poverty, inequality, and racial disparities in our society. And because factors like unemployment and housing instability contribute to crime risk, these effects in turn make society less safe.

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Criminal Law Commons