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University of Baltimore Law Forum

Abstract

In America, the concept of “time served” is a misnomer, as the shackles of a lifetime of collateral consequences make a criminal record a scathing obstacle for over 100 million Americans. Each year, more than 650,000 people are expected to reintegrate into our communities, often with substance abuse and mental health issues, minimal education, no job to sustain a life, and no stable home awaiting them.

While these numbers are staggering on their own, they do not reflect the even larger number of people who cycle through the court system and jails. For example, some take pleas for a lesser charge in order to expedite their case and return to society only to face a myriad of statutory and practical criminal record barriers without support or resources. This ultimately impacts every layer of society – communities, schools, the labor force, law enforcement – and often puts Americans at risk or in harm’s way.

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