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Pardons as an Economic Investment Strategy: Examining a Decade of Data

Economy League: Pardons as an Economic Investment Strategy - April 2020

Individuals who encounter the criminal justice system are, in many ways, permanently bound to and even defined by their criminal records. From being prohibited from living in public housing, to losing access to public benefits, from being prohibited by law from working in certain industries, to being denied state licenses for not having the requisite “good moral character,” the formal and informal barriers created by a criminal record expand an individual’s punishment well beyond the criminal justice system.

In Pennsylvania and across the nation these varied losses of opportunity, also known as collateral consequences, are many and well-documented. They impact over 300,000 Commonwealth residents, and are geographically predictable, with many ex-offenders returning to low-income neighborhoods in the state’s major cities.

Pardons are one tool among several that can help ease the burden of a criminal record. In this first-of-its-kind study, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia examines a decade of data from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Board of Pardons. Using this data, the Economy League examines the impact of pardons, and quantifies their economic impact in low-income, high-arrest communities in Pennsylvania.

To read the full report, click here.

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