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Land of the free? Comparing England and Wales criminal records policy with five US states

New research shows stark difference in chances afforded to people with past convictions.
Alexandra Kimmons
29 Jan 2024
Read the full report
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One in six people in England and Wales have a criminal record. But 27% of UK employers wouldn’t hire someone with a conviction. Employment is a key factor in preventing future offending. But people with criminal records are often trapped in the past, unable to find stable work and contribute their talents to society because of their record.

Other countries, like the US, have begun taking steps to solve the issue. How do we compare?

Researchers examined five scenarios in which someone with a previous conviction is seeking employment and compared what would appear on their criminal record in England and Wales and five US states: California, Connecticut, Utah, New Jersey, and Oklahoma.

In three out of five scenarios, the England and Wales system is more punitive than any of the five US states. In two scenarios, the England and Wales system is similarly punitive to certain states, and more punitive than others.

Read the full report to see where we’re falling behind, and what steps we could take to allow people with criminal records to fulfil their potential.