Earning back a life: Felonies and the collateral damages faced

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.