Earning back a life: Felonies and the collateral damages faced

Should a felony affect you for the long term, even when you maintain a clean record? Your attorney can help you work toward having your record cleared through expungement in some cases, but until then, you need to abide by the laws of the state. Maryland’s state lawmakers have been working to enact the Justice Reinvestment Act, now a law. The act reforms the current criminal justice system in the state.

Reintegration is important for people who go to prison. They need to be able to get housing, to find employment and should have the right to vote. In many places, people who have been through the system struggle without the support they need; in Maryland alone, over 40 percent of offenders are put back in prison within three years for re-offending. These re-offenses may be due to being unable to reintegrate effectively.

The problem with having a felony on your record is that collateral consequences can impact you even after you’ve served your time. There are 376 limitations in Maryland that those with felonies on their record face. These range from losing some licensing for a previous profession to trouble finding housing.

What’s interesting to think about is that not all felonies result in prison time in Maryland. Sometimes, misdemeanors actually carry a prison sentence when felonies do not. Still, those with felonies are treated much harsher than those with misdemeanors, regardless of that fact.

Previously, the governor of Virginia gave back voting rights to 200,000 of the state’s convicted felons. Instead of this process, some believe that a path to expungement should be provided. By staying on the right path; leading a healthy life, not re-offending and maintaining a positive influence in the community, those with felonies should earn back their rights and have their records sealed.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Redemption and rewards for felons,” Sean Kennedy, accessed June 28, 2016