This article reviews research funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) that has examined issues related to addressing the impact of a recorded criminal record on recidivism during reentry and issues related to removing a criminal record.
This article focuses on two NIJ studies. One is an ongoing evaluation of expungement of criminal records and its effects on recidivism, housing, and employment. Initial findings offer preliminary insights on the availability, viability, and impact of criminal record-clearing processes. The second study has been completed on the permanency and accuracy of criminal records in the digital age. This article also provides a broader discussion derived from an NIJ-hosted webinar, which examines the difficulty of clearing criminal records in the digital age. It considers the need to balance the competing interests of those who saw an expungement of their criminal records, which may contain dated or misleading information, and the law enforcement community, which argues that retaining accurate information on a person’s past criminal activity serves an essential public safety purpose.