With as many as one in three Americans holding a criminal record and most employers, colleges, and landlords performing background checks, it’s more important than ever to ensure that former prisoners who have served their time and are seeking a second chance are able to do so. These records often represent a significant hurdle to individuals’ success in finding employment, housing, and even identification, according to the latest research.
That’s why Koch Industries Senior Vice President Mark Holden joined with David Plouffe, head of policy and advocacy at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and former campaign manager and senior adviser to President Barack Obama, to call upon North Carolina lawmakers to expand the number of people eligible to have their records expunged.
“The two of us may not agree on everything, but we share a fundamental belief that overcriminalization hurts our economy and denies opportunity to millions of people,” Holden and Plouffe write in an op-ed for The Raleigh News & Observer. “Nothing is as American as the comeback story, yet we’re preventing so many in our communities from making their own comebacks possible.”
They note that while state courts make 100,000 convictions each year, fewer than 2,000 people have had their records cleared or sealed since 2011, when the law changed to make possible the removal of a first-time misdemeanor or felony conviction from a person’s record. North Carolina, they add, could further strengthen its reforms by automating the records-clearing process like Pennsylvania and Utah have done.
Read the full op-ed at The News & Observer.