Unforgiven: After paying their debt to society, millions are still branded by their felony records.
By Leah Sottile
Published in The Inlander on October 25, 2010
“From 1970 to 2000, the United States’ rate of incarceration jumped by more than 500 percent. Today 2.3 million people live behind bars, and an estimated 13 million Americans have felony convictions on their records.
“While half are violent offenders, half are like Carol — people with drug offenses or property crimes. And long after their sentences are served, debts paid, rehabilitation completed and lessons learned, they’re still branded as felons.
“Felons are, perhaps, the last group that can be legally discriminated against: A felony can automatically disqualify someone from a job, from getting a safe place to live, from being eligible to vote. Many felons end up living in poor neighborhoods and raising children in crime-riddled areas — where their children get caught up in the same traps.”