The Reintegration Agenda During Pandemic: Criminal Record Reforms in 2020
Collateral Consequences Resource Center
According to the latest annual report from the Collateral Consequences Resource Center (CCRC), since 2013, every state legislature has taken at least some steps to chip away at the negative effects of a criminal record on the ability to earn a living, to access housing, education, and public benefits, and otherwise to fully reintegrate into society. Some states have entirely remade their post-sentence relief systems. Some state governors have also issued executive orders or class-wide pardons in support of this restoration effort. Congress also has rather belatedly become interested in criminal records issues, limiting background checks in federal employment and contracting in 2019, and removing barriers to public benefits in 2020 spurred by the effects of the pandemic.
The report reveals that 2020 saw a continuation of these legislative trends. While fewer states enacted fewer laws in 2020 than in the preceding two years, evidently because of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, the fact that there was still considerable progress is testament to a genuine and enduring public commitment to a reintegration agenda. In 2020, 32 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government enacted 106 legislative bills, approved 5 ballot initiatives, and issued 4 executive orders to restore rights and opportunities to people with a criminal record.