“Virginians with a felony conviction can now vote, but getting a job is no easier”

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 them opportunities, or with what he calls “a relentless form of social stigma.”  He concludes that relief measures like expungement, which are based on concealing the fact of conviction, may be less effective for felony-level crimes than more transparent measures like pardon or certificates of rehabilitation.  He concludes that “Forgiving, when someone has earned it, gives an individual a fresh start and, just as important, it helps restore the idea of rehabilitation in American justice.”

A featured piece by a well-regarded journalist in such a sophisticated venue may do a lot to bring the problem of collateral consequences to the attention of people in a position to do something about them.  We reprint portions of the article below. Read more