The Denver Post: When people are convicted of breaking a law, they are sentenced to punishment. That can take many forms – time in prison or jail, on probation, or in community corrections (“halfway houses”). For lower-level offenses, punishment usually lasts a few years, or sometimes only a few months.
But at the click of a Google search, anyone can, at any time, dig up a lingering snapshot of someone’s past in the form of their record. This means people who have already served their sentence for lower-level offenses are too often condemned to suffer de-facto punishment for years or decades longer – unable to become part of society again, even though they have already paid in full for the wrong they committed.
This is unjust, particularly for people of color who have been over-represented in our criminal justice systems since their inception. Nearly half of young black males have been arrested by age 23, and even where charges are never filed, these arrest records persist, continuing the impact of disparate and discriminatory practices throughout the criminal legal system. Thus, young black males suffer barriers to future employment, professional certifications, and housing, at disparately higher rates.
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