When you have a criminal conviction, punishment can last far beyond any time you serve on parole probation. Long after you complete your sentence, you can find yourself restricted from jobs, housing and even the right to vote. Even if you have moved beyond your past, you may still feel the consequences.
Two new bills hope to help people in New Jersey with criminal records. The laws will grant voting rights to those on parole or probation and seal records of many people with low-level offenses.
Records don’t always stay in the past
When you go before a judge for a criminal offense, you receive a sentence that only lasts for a certain time. After you complete your time, you hope to move past your conviction and start fresh. But you may find that your conviction can follow you.
A record can restrict opportunities
Many people with criminal records may feel like their past denies them opportunities. When employers pull background checks, a conviction can prevent them from hiring an applicant. Housing providers may also deny rental applicants for mistakes made in the past. And when people are on parole or probation, they don’t have the right to cast a vote for the leaders of their communities.
These restrictions can lead many to feel like their conviction prevents them from reentering society.
New laws may ease restrictions
The new laws in New Jersey will help to ease some of those restrictions. When people are on parole or probation, they can still choose who they want to run government posts. And for many who have low-level convictions from years ago, automatic expungement can help them find jobs and housing.
Convictions can follow you
When you serve your punishments for a crime, you hope to move past your mistakes. But when a conviction goes on your criminal record, it can follow you as you try to make a better life.