Even a minor conviction can be a life sentence to poverty. Given the collateral consequences of justice involvement, the sheer magnitude of convictions in the United States creates an enormous economic impact for our society. Clean Slate Initiative estimates that between 70 million and 100 million Americans, about one in three, have a conviction. Nearly one half of all children in the U.S. (between 33 million to 36.5 million) have at least one parent with a conviction.
Criminal background screenings are routinely used by employers (9 in 10); landlords (4 in 5) and colleges (3 in 5) and those with convictions are only half as likely as other applicants to get a call from an employer. Black Americans with a conviction are 50 percent less likely to get an employment offer.
For each of these individuals who cannot find a job, or a home, or a school that will admit them, there are ripple effects. It’s estimated that convictions cost lost wages in excess of $372 billion every year and costs the United States economy some $87 billion in lost GDP each year. Incarceration exacts its own financial toll, requiring taxpayer dollars for every person imprisoned; and recidivism becomes all the more likely when individuals are denied the chance to start over.
Clearing convictions gives people that chance. Not only does it allow individuals to rebuild their lives with stability, safety and dignity, but it has important implications for our economy. Record clearing can help more jobseekers find employment and expand the workforce during this time of pronounced labor shortages. They can earn higher wages, support their families, and provide better prospects for their children. More working people can participate in local economies, pay taxes, and help other businesses grow. And it saves taxpayer money on reincarceration, allowing our communities to reinvest in other supports to ensure that people are happy, healthy, and productive.