A lifetime of barriers follows a person with a criminal record, regardless of whether the sentence and any post release sanctions are met. These barriers are collateral sanctions, and they prevent people from fully returning to their communities as productive and valued citizens. Collateral sanctions block people from access to good jobs and the economy. Collateral sanctions prevent access to education programs and eligibility for housing. Collateral sanctions perpetuate cycles of poverty and despair.
The proliferation of criminal offenses in Ohio ushered in an ever-growing litany of collateral sanctions. For example, a 2018 report found some 850 laws and administrative rules limit job opportunities for Ohioans with convictions who have already served their time.
Ohioans can ask courts to seal past criminal records, but the restrictions and waiting periods on criminal record sealing leave too many people unable to navigate the labyrinth of rules and statutes. Expungement is another process to overcome old criminal conviction records, but eligibility restrictions and higher evidentiary standards put expungement out of reach for the vast majority of Ohio’s with criminal records.
Ohio needs a clean slate
Clean Slate is a concept catching on in states across the US. Some states apply their clean slate laws to low level felonies while other states wipe away only misdemeanors. Ohio’s bulging collateral sanctions impacting an estimated one-third of the state’s population—roughly 3.9 million people—will require significant change to fully restore people. Ohio can start to address collateral sanctions by:
- Automatically sealing non-convictions and dismissals (cause you still get a record even if you’re not guilty).
- Allow local jurisdictions to create processes to automatically seal records after specified years.
- Remove collateral sanctions that have no relationship to a criminal conviction.
Read more about collateral sanctions.
Collateral Consequences and the Enduring Nature of Punishment