Upgrades to the Restoration of Rights Project

We are pleased to announce the completion of a major project to upgrade our flagship resource, the Restoration of Rights Project (RRP).  The RRP is a free on-line compendium of legal research that describes and analyzes the laws and practices relating to criminal record relief in the United States.  The improvements we have made will make it easier for our readers to gain both a snapshot and more detailed understanding of how record relief laws and policies operate within each of the 50 states, D.C., 2 territories, and the federal system.  They will also facilitate comparisons of how different states address various types of relief, producing a national-level picture against which each state can measure its progress.

This major undertaking was a collaboration between CCRC staff and four students at Yale Law School: Jordan Dannenberg, Kallie Klein, Jackson Skeen, and Tor Tarantola.  We thank these students, as well as YLS Professor Kate Stith, for their excellent contributions to our mission of promoting public engagement on the issues raised by the collateral consequences of arrest or conviction.

The state-by-state profiles, summaries and 50-state comparison charts from the RRP are what we rely on in preparing periodic and year-end summary reports on new legislation, which we track and add to the RRP in real time throughout the year.  The research and analysis in the RRP also informs our commentary on everything from new court decisions and scholarship to politics and practice, as well as the amicus briefs we file from time to time in significant litigation.  It is the foundation of our work on model legislation.  The RRP provided the raw material for a national overview report of record relief laws and policies, Forgiving and Forgetting in American Justice, which was last revised in August 2018.  Because of this report’s value in identifying overall patterns and emerging trends, we are already at work bringing it up to date with the more than 200 new laws passed since it was last revised.

Through the upgrade project we reorganized and expanded the RRP in three major ways.

First, we restructured the RRP’s short summaries, state-by-state profiles, and 50-state comparison charts to clearly and consistently delineate the four primary issues that the RRP covers: (1) restoration of civil and firearms rights; (2) pardons; (3) expungement and other record relief; and (4) employment and licensing.

Second, we redrafted and revised the short summaries for each issue in each jurisdiction, to make them more straightforward, thorough, and consistent.  Tor Tarantola worked on the short summaries covering civil and firearms rights.  CCRC staff worked on pardoning.  Kallie Klein and Jackson Skeen worked on expungement and other record relief.  Jordan Dannenberg worked on employment and licensing.  We have made these summaries newly available on an issue-by-issue basis, so that the laws of different states may more easily be compared within an issue area.

Third, we consolidated and refined our 50-state comparison pages.  An inventory of these revised resources follows.

  • The Civil & Firearms Right comparison page now includes:
    • a chart on voting, jury service, public office & state firearms;
    • a chart on federal firearms law; and
    • state-by-state short summaries.
  • The Pardon Policy & Practice comparison page now includes:
    • a chart comparing pardoning policies;
    • a chart of relative pardoning frequency;
    • a chart of models of pardon administration; and
    • state-by-state short summaries.
  • The Expungement, Sealing, & Other Record Relief comparison page now includes:
    • a chart describing record relief policies for each state;
    • a chart categorizing the states by how broadly their expungement and sealing laws apply;
    • a list of states with automatic conviction relief; and
    • state-by-state short summaries.
  • The Criminal Record in Employment & Licensing comparison page now includes state-by-state short summaries.

We also published a new marijuana comparison page covering marijuana legalization and decriminalization, as well as marijuana-focused expungement and clemency, on a national basis.  In November, we brought up to date the comparison page on relief from sex offender registration.