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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Legal Action Center Advocacy Toolkit: Certificates of Rehabilitation

  • Organization: Legal Action Center
  • Date Created: Tuesday, January 31, 2006
  • Submitted: Tuesday, January 31, 2006
  • Attachment(s): LINK

The Unfair Roadblock: More than 600,000 individuals are released from federal and state prisons every year; hundreds of thousands are leaving local jails or are serving their sentences in the community. As these individuals seek employment or housing and work to become productive members of society they will not only need to overcome the stigma associated with having a criminal record - even after they have completed their sentence and fully paid their debt to society - they will often encounter federal and state laws and policies that make successful reentry much more difficult. (See the Legal Action Center's report, After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry, at (

How to Remove the Roadblock: Certificates of rehabilitation are an essential resource states can offer to support reentry - and thus promote public safety - by lifting statutory bars to jobs, licenses or other necessities such as housing that result from a conviction history. Certificates may be used to provide a way for qualified people with criminal records to demonstrate rehabilitation or a commitment to rehabilitation. However, only six states currently have laws authorizing certificates of rehabilitation or other similar means of removing legal barriers arising from a criminal record separate and apart from seeking a governor pardon, which are rarely granted in many states.

This tool kit provides materials advocates can use to seek passage of laws creating certificates of rehabilitation

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