Maryland Second Chance Act of 2015

What's the Problem?
Nearly one in three American adults have been arrested by age 23, as reported by the National Institute of Justice.

One prominent researcher found that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a job callback or offer by nearly 50 percent. The effect is even more pronounced for African American men.

Maryland lags behind many other states in enacting this type of reform policy. Many other U.S. states have policies that limit public access to certain criminal records in order to mitigate collateral consequences

What’s the Proposal?

The Maryland Second Chance Act of 2015 – Championed by the Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF), this bill would allow certain nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to be shielded from public view after a 3-7 year waiting period.  Law enforcement retains full access to shielded records, balancing the public’s need to know with ex-offenders’ employment needs.

Shielded records would remain fully accessible to law enforcement and the court system.

Employers and entities with a statutory and/or contractual requirement to inquire into a candidate’s criminal background will have full access to shielded records, including those required to access criminal background information under Maryland’s Family Law Article.

If a subsequent conviction occurs during the waiting period, the initial offense cannot be shielded until the subsequent offense becomes eligible for shielding.

Will this Work?

A person’s criminal record should not equate to a lifetime of social and economic disadvantage for many reasons, including  public safety, strengthening families and improving the economy.  A second chance for honest work benefits all Marylanders.

Jobs are crucial to the successful reentry of those returning to society from incarceration: Returning citizens with employment, according to statistics, are less than half as likely to commit new offenses as those without employment.  This means that barriers to the job market compromise public safety.

Even though a father may have a criminal record, his children still look to him as  a role model and for financial support. Maryland can ease social and economic burdens on families and communities by permitting people who paid  their debt to society to live and work as productive members of their communities.

No healthy economy can sustain a large and growing population of unemployable workers, especially in communities already hard hit by joblessness.   Removing employment barriers will reduce the welfare rolls, reduce taxes and benefit local businesses.

Studies show that providing stable employment lowers crime recidivism rates and improves public safety.

The New York Times reports that Second Chance Act policies have begun to prove their worth:

A 2009 study funded by the National Institute of Justice  reports that may be possible to estimate a point when a prospective employee with a criminal record is no more likely reoffend than a prospective employee with no criminal record.

Even the U.S. Transportation Security Administration recognizes the reduced importance of a criminal record after the lapse of enough time — TSA permits a transportation worker to qualify for a security pass after 7 years without repeat of certain criminal convictions. 

Status of the Legislation

Senate Bill 526 was passed and signed into law. It will allow individuals to request that the courts shield certain nonviolent misdemeanor convictions from public view three years after completing any mandatory supervision, including parole and probation.

Learn More!

Read the 2014 endorsement of the Maryland Second Chance Act by the Attorney General Doug Gansler, citing research and statistics in support of the proposal.

Read about the nationwide “Second Chance Act” movement.

View the YouTube testimony of Baltimore City Council President Jack Young in support of the proposal, citing economic needs in the City.

Read more research on employment of those with criminal records.