Making an economic – and moral – case for criminal justice reform and second chances

November 23, 2018

Shutting out people with criminal records is more than just morally wrong – it’s bad economic policy. With anywhere between 70 million and 100 million people with criminal records in the United States, it’s time to recognize – and correct – the damage done by years of closing opportunities in housing, education, and employment. Every year, the U.S. loses up to $87 billion in gross domestic product because of these decisions.

That’s the message of a recent op-ed for USA Today by Mark Holden, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Koch Industries, and David Plouffe, head of policy and advocacy at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and former campaign manager and senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

Holden and Plouffe note that the issue has bipartisan support in states like Pennsylvania, where the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic governor worked together on legislation that will seal certain types of records for former prisoners who qualify. State legislatures across the country are following Pennsylvania’s lead, “a commonsense move that will make a huge difference – both for individuals and for the economy,” they write.