Repairing the Road to Redemption in California

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Californians with convictions face over 4,800 laws that impose harmful collateral consequences long after successful completion of a sentence, most of which have no foundation in public safety and serve no purpose other than to make it harder for people to rebuild their lives.



1 in 5 Californians (an estimated 8 million people) are still living with an old criminal conviction.


people with a criminal conviction (76 percent) have experienced barriers to success.

The barriers are extensive and block people from job opportunities, housing, education, adopting or fostering a child (even their own family member), volunteering at their child's school or joining its PTA, and accessing victims' services, among others.

In a first-of-its-kind September 2017 survey

of people impacted by the criminal justice system, the negative impacts that people with convictions experience include:

difficulty finding a job


struggle paying fines or fees


health issues including difficulty sleeping


difficulty obtaining an occupational license


difficulty finding housing

The negative impacts of a felony conviction disproportionately impact people of color, people living in urban areas, people without a college degree, and people who are low income. The largest disparities relate to finding a job or housing.

People of color are


more likely than white people to report difficulty finding a job


more likely to report difficulty finding housing

Respondents with household incomes less than $25,000 vs. those with incomes greater than $75,000 are


as likely to report difficulty finding a job


as likely to report difficulty finding housing

the average debt incurred because of criminal conviction is


A recent study conducted in 12 states, including California, shows that the average debt incurred because of a criminal conviction is $13,607.

a base fine of


could result in total court-ordered debt of over


A misdemeanor DUI, with a base fine of $390, could result in a total court-ordered debt of over $6000 due to additional charges.

In 2014, the U.S. lost the equivalent of

1.7 to 1.9 million

workers to restrictions based on conviction records, representing up to an

$87 billion

loss in annual gross domestic product

To address this crisis, Californians for Safety and Justice (CSJ) convened a group of leading experts to develop a first-of-its-kind study on the impact of collateral consequences and the opportunity to advance solutions that will eliminate barriers to success and offer real second chances to millions of Californians. Based on the experiences of people living with criminal records and the challenges they face in overcoming those convictions, this groundbreaking research highlights the most pernicious roadblocks, the long-term effects on individuals, families, and communities and recommendations to increase legal remedies and remove unnecessary restrictions.

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