Today’s Solutions: January 16, 2022

We all make mistakes, but no one pays for their mistakes more in America than former convicts. A criminal conviction can make it almost impossible to get a job or housing, making it more and more likely for ex-convicts to resort to criminal activities to get an income. It used to be impossible for people with a criminal record to expunge or seal their records, even for misdemeanor crimes such as possession of marijuana. But now more than 20 states over the last two years have expanded or added laws to help people move on from their criminal records and get a second chance in life. These reforms are being driven for a number of reasons. One is a purely economic reason: if ex-convicts can’t get good jobs, they can’t pay taxes to counties. The other reason is simply a matter of fairness as even the smallest of crimes can have long-term, damaging consequences for people for the rest of their lives. Considering that more than 60 million people in America have a criminal record, with the majority being a misdemeanor, it’s encouraging to see that the laws are starting to change in order to help people get a second chance.

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