Brooklyn Law Review


Criminal justice reform discussions routinely permeate political and societal media forums. Many proponents of reform highlight the concern that significant collateral consequences plague ex-offenders and prohibit them from resuming a meaningful place in society. Specifically, scholars focus on the lack of employment opportunities for ex-offenders as the most salient and detrimental collateral consequence. Some academics argue the expansion of expungement of criminal records would rectify the lack of employment opportunities to this group, and correct the general societal imbalance ex-offenders face. Wiping away an ex-offender’s past transgression is seen as a public act of forgiveness that removes the possibility of an ex-offender being stigmatized by his or her criminal record—either by the public or by employers. The expungement of a criminal record entails erasing the conviction, so it is essentially removed from history. This note argues that the expungement of criminal records, specifically federal criminal records, is not a viable procedure. Furthermore, this note provides a blueprint for an alternative to expungement, namely, the federal use of certificates of rehabilitation and increased economic tax incentives for employers to hire ex-offenders.

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Criminal Law Commons