Justice-involved people face more than 44,000 legal sanctions that can prevent them from getting a job, obtaining licenses, attaining and maintaining housing, qualifying for public assistance, pursuing higher education, engaging in civic participation, changing immigration status, and receiving custody of a minor, among many other restrictions. Additionally, people with criminal records face discrimination: 9 in 10 employers, 4 in 5 landlords, and 3 in 5 colleges and universities use background checks in hiring decisions. These impacts lead to higher rates of homelessness and unemployment, lower cumulative earnings, and difficulties pursing educational opportunities; they also create barriers to community integration.
The consequences of having a criminal record do not occur in isolation but have direct and substantial impacts for families and communities. These barriers undermine the five pillars of family well-being—income, savings and assets, education, housing, and family strength and stability—and, in turn, negatively affect family cohesion. As a result, people with records lose access to opportunities, driving and keeping their families in poverty across generations.
Nearly half of all children in the United States—about 33 million to 36.5 million—have at least one parent with a criminal record. [read more]
Of these, 5.1 million children have lived the adverse childhood experience of having at least one parent incarcerated during their childhood. These children are six times more likely to be justice involved during their youth—especially if their mother has been incarcerated. Second-generation prisoners, or adults who had a parent incarcerated, experience more adversities in life, exposure to violence, and social and emotional difficulties that lead to worse outcomes for individual well-being. The impacts of having a criminal record and incarceration do not disappear after one generation; rather, they linger and pose residual consequences that reproduce disadvantage for their children’s children and beyond. A person’s experiences with childhood poverty as a result of having a parent with a criminal record often lead to poverty during their adult lives and of their children, continuing the multigenerational cycle. [/read]