Restoration of Rights

This page contains national restoration of rights materials;  state-specific resources on restoration of rights are available here.


Restoration of Rights Project

Summarizes rights restoration mechanisms in each U.S. jurisdiction, including pardon, judicial expungement and certificates, and systemic relief provisions. 

National HIRE Network Criminal Records Information Clearinghouse

Information about governmental agencies and community-based organizations that assist people with criminal records, practitioners, researchers, and policy makers. 

The Papillon Foundation

State-by-state guide to sealing, expungement, and other relief

Pardon 411

State-by-state pardon information from the Foundation for Continuing Justice

Future Interrupted: The Collateral Damage Caused by Proliferatiom of Juvenile Records (2014); includes state-by-state scorecard 

2014 report on expungement and confidentiality from the Juvenile Law Center

 


Related blog posts:

  • Indiana courts interpret new expungement law (9/19/2016) - On September 15, 2016, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s denial of expungement to a woman convicted 13 years before of forgery and drug-dealing, holding that the court abused its discretion in denying relief where the case fully met the statutory standards. The decision provides a window into how one of the Nation’s most expansive new expungement [...]
  • Can the pardon power be revived through procedural reforms? (9/12/2016) - Mark Osler has posted a new piece arguing for an overhaul of the federal pardon process so that it more closely resembles efficient and productive state clemency systems. He argues that flaws in the process for administering the power, rather than a failure of executive will, have prevented President Obama from carrying out his ambitious clemency agenda directed atlong-sentenced drug [...]
  • Federal expungement order reversed on appeal (8/11/2016) - In an eagerly awaited decision, a panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that federal courts have no authority to expunge the records of a valid conviction.  As Joe Palazzolo at the Wall Street Journal noted, this effectively “put an end to an experiment by a Brooklyn judge that drew attention to the challenges people with criminal records [...]
  • Prez promises to catch up on pardons — but he’s far behind (8/5/2016) - We have wondered whether President Obama would ever turn his attention to what has become the red-headed stepchild of the clemency caseload: full pardons to restore rights and status after service of sentence.  To date President Obama has focused on commuting prison sentences, and has issued fewer pardons than any full-term president since the Civil War.  It appears that the [...]
  • New era for expungement reform? Too soon to tell. (8/3/2016) - A new article in the Harvard Law & Policy Review evaluates some of the recent legislative efforts to deliver relief from the burden of collateral consequences through new or expanded expungement laws.  In “A New Era for Expungement Law Reform? Recent Developments at the State and Federal Levels,” Brian Murray argues that many of the newer record-closing laws are far too modest in [...]
  • New York City agency called on the carpet for employment discrimination (8/1/2016) - At least on paper, New York City has the strongest legal protections in the Nation for people with a criminal record, and for employers and others who are willing to give them a chance. The State’s vaunted certificates of relief remove mandatory legal disabilities and certify rehabilitation, and are available to any and all defendants.  Governor Cuomo has shown his [...]
  • What (if anything) does the Virginia voting rights decision tell us about the president’s pardon power? (7/24/2016) - On July 22, 2016, the Virginia Supreme Court struck down a series of executive orders issued by Governor Terry McAuliffe restoring voting and other civil rights to more than 200,000 convicted individuals.  See Howell v. McAuliffe (Va. 2016).  The court, in a 4-to-3 decision, disputed the governor’s assertion that his restoration power was absolute under the state’s Constitution. “We respectfully disagree,” [...]
  • Missouri expands expungement in a big way (7/20/2016) - Last week Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill that will dramatically expand the availability of expungement for people convicted of state crimes. The new law (SB-588), which will go into effect in 2018, extends expungement relief to a broad range of felonies and misdemeanors, and reduces the waiting period for expungeable felonies from 20 years to only 7 years [...]
  • Washington enacts Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (7/6/2016) - Washington State courts are now authorized to grant certain individuals a Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP), which prohibits many state licensing entities from disqualifying the holder solely based on his or her criminal history.  A CROP also protects employers and housing providers from liability for negligent hiring and renting.  The new certificate authority was created by HB 1533, which was [...]
  • Excessive filing fees frustrate new expungement schemes (6/3/2016) - How much is a clean slate worth?  That’s the question many people with criminal records are asking in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee, where the cost of filing for expungement is (or will soon be) between $450 and $550.  To put that into perspective:  In Kentucky, the $500 fee required to expunge an eligible felony conviction under a new law that [...]
  • Study shows certificates work to create job opportunities (5/25/2016) - A new empirical study provides important evidence that “certificates of recovery/relief” can be effective in facilitating employment opportunities for people with a criminal record.  Two University of South Carolina criminologists have concluded that employers in Ohio are willing to look beyond the criminal histories of job applicants who have been issued a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) from a state court. The [...]
  • Expungement expansion round-up (2016 edition) (5/23/2016) - More and more states are enacting new expungement and sealing laws, or expanding existing ones, some covering convictions for the first time.  The first four months of 2016 alone saw courts given significant new authority to limit access to criminal records in four states, and bills have been introduced in several others that promise more new laws in months to [...]
  • NYT says NO to “the other f-word,” and YES to Gov. McAuliffe (5/8/2016) - The New York Times has two great Sunday editorials on issues relating to collateral consequences.  One deals with the issue of labeling people with a criminal record, of special concern when headline writers seem unable to resist using what Bill Keller at the Marshall Project recently called “the other F-word.”  The editorial points out that ugly demeaning labels like “convict” and [...]
  • “Virginians with a felony conviction can now vote, but getting a job is no easier” (5/3/2016) - Lincoln Caplan, formerly of the editorial staff of The New York Times and now on the faculty at Yale Law School, has written a thoughtful piece about collateral consequences for the New Yorker.  It points out why Governor McAuliffe’s order restoring the vote to Virginians with a criminal record doesn’t help them deal with the myriad of legal restrictions that deny [...]
  • Bids Sought for National Clean Slate Clearinghouse (4/29/2016) - Last November President Obama announced plans to create a National Clean Slate Clearinghouse, a joint project between the Departments of Labor and Justice that would “build capacity for legal services needed to help with record-cleaning, expungement, and related civil legal services.”  In late February the Labor Department announced plans for a large-scale contract to establish the Clearinghouse, and sought information [...]
  • A plea to stop labeling people who have a criminal record (4/25/2016) - On April 22, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order restoring civil rights to more than 200,000 individuals once convicted of felonies.  His courageous action is welcome and long overdue, and there are now only three states nationwide that permanently disenfranchise people based on a felony conviction.  The Governor’s press release promises new restoration orders on a regular monthly basis [...]
  • Kentucky expungement offers fresh start to thousands (4/15/2016) -   On Wednesday Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed a bill giving state courts authority for the first time to expunge felony convictions.  The new law, HB 40, allows people convicted of specified non-violent class D felonies who have been crime-free for 5 years to petition to have their conviction vacated, charges dismissed, and record expunged.  Expunged records are deleted from [...]
  • Second chance for some youthful sex offenders (4/13/2016) - On April 6, Arizona became the latest state to offer early relief from sex offender registration obligations to young people convicted of consensual sex offenses and sentenced to probation.  The law, HB 2539, allows individuals convicted before reaching age 22 of sexual conduct with a minor between the ages of 15 and 17 (so-called “Romeo and Juliet” offenders), to petition the court for relief [...]
  • Federal expungement case argued in court of appeals (4/8/2016) - On April 7 a panel of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard argument in United States v. Jane Doe (Jane Doe I).  At issue in that case is whether U.S. District Judge John Gleeson acted within his authority when he expunged the conviction of a woman he had sentenced some 14 years earlier, based on his finding that [...]
  • “A Federal Judge’s New Model for Forgiveness” (3/16/2016) - New York Times By JESSE WEGMAN March 16, 2016 Should a judge care what happens, years down the road, to the defendants convicted in his courtroom? In 2003, John Gleeson, a federal district judge in Brooklyn, presided over the trial of a woman charged for her role in faking a car accident for the insurance payments. After a jury found [...]