Adams publishes research on criminal record clearance

Jun 01, 2016

Ericka Adams, North Central College assistant professor of sociology, published a paper titled "Erasing the mark of a criminal past: Ex-offenders' expectations and experiences with record clearance" with coauthors Elsa Chen of Santa Clara University and independent researcher Rosella Chapman. This publication involved interviews with 40 people with criminal records to examine the expectations of individuals who seek record clearance and the extent to which completion of the process facilitates efforts to reintegrate into society and desist from crime.
The results show that record clearance benefits ex-offenders through external effects, such as the reduction of barriers to employment and internal processes, such as the facilitation of cognitive transformation and the affirmation of a new identity. Increased availability of inexpensive or free opportunities for record clearance can contribute to more successful reintegration of ex-offenders into the workforce, families and communities. Not only would this improve quality of life for the ex-offenders, but it also could increase public safety and reduce public spending.
Adams and Chen presented a second paper, titled "'I've Risen up From the Ashes That I Created': Expungement and Female Offenders' Narratives of Desistance and Self-Reinvention," at a workshop titled Prisoner Reentry and Reintegration: Improving Data Collection and Methodology to Advance Theory and Knowledge. Held at Rutgers University-Newark April 15, the workshop was sponsored by the National Science Foundation; Santa Clara University; University of Massachusetts-Boston; and Rutgers University, School of Criminal Justice.
In this study, Adams and Chen interviewed 40 people with one or more criminal conviction(s) to examine the differences between women and men in their motivations to desist from drugs and crime, as well as their expectations and experiences as a result of criminal record clearance. Adams and Chen concluded that both men and women seek opportunities for personal gain through desistance and record clearance, but women are more likely to be motivated by moral and religious influences and concern about their reputation. However, women experience greater difficulty than men in their efforts to change their living environment and associates. Their findings emphasize the importance of both individual decision-making and gendered social roles and contexts in the reentry process.

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