Sustaining Public Safety While Promoting the
Employment of Qualified People with Criminal Records
Recommended Key Provisions for
Certificate of Rehabilitation Legislation
Clearly define who is eligible and when. For example, there may be a need to
differentiate eligibility criteria based on the seriousness of an individual’s record.
Some states impose eligibility waiting periods on individuals who are deemed to
have “serious” criminal records. Remember to include considerations for
residents who may have federal or out of state convictions in the eligibility
Allow applicants to apply at the court where they reside as opposed to where the
case took place. Some applicants may have relocated to another part of the
state and it may be a substantial hardship to go through the process long
distance. Remember to note application procedures for residents who may have
federal or out of state convictions.
If there are required application fees, allow for reduced or no-fee waivers for
applicants who are indigent.
Specify a reapplication process that clarifies how often someone can reapply and
how long after a denial.
Specify what documents are necessary to be submitted with the application, such
as court certificates of disposition (if cases are from another court), fingerprint
card, copies of identification, etc.
Indicate which entity is responsible for the investigation of evidence,
recommendations, and determinations (i.e. probation department, judge, parole,
or a separate entity).
Indicate the timeline for the application process. If a hearing is necessary, time
periods for the scheduling of hearing dates and the maximum amount of time an
applicant must wait before the investigation is completed and a decision
rendered should be documented.
Require that applicants receive all reports and decisions in writing.
Include provisions to revoke certificates when an individual has been
BURDEN OF PROOF
List the evidence that is necessary for the applicant to demonstrate rehabilitation. Examples
include the following:
All financial sanctions or fines imposed by sentence must be paid.
No new conviction or indictments since last conviction.
No outstanding fines associated with driver’s license.
Current on all child or spousal support obligations.
Copies of federal, state, and local income taxes.
Secure residence for a substantial period of time.
Gainful employment or demonstrating other evidence of means of support.
Helping Individuals with criminal records Re-enter through Employment Director Legal Action Center 236 Massachusetts Ave. www.hirenetwork.org
Debbie A. Mukamal, JD 153 Waverly Place NE, Suite 505 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY 10014 Washington, DC 20002
212-243-1313 (p) 202-544-5478 (p)
212-675-0286 (f) 202-544-5712 (f)
Evidence of sobriety, if appropriate.
Character reference letters.
Evidence of voluntary community service.
Attainment of vocational or educational training.
EFFECT OF CERTIFICATE
Indicate that a certificate is not considered a pardon and the individual cannot
deny the existence of a criminal record.
Make clear that effect of having a certificate is the presumption of rehabilitation
for purposes of public and private employment, licensing, benefits, civil right,
housing, or other considerations that require criminal background checks.
Indicate that certificate eradicates any “lack of good moral character” finding that
could be based on the fact that an applicant has previously been convicted of
one or more criminal offenses.
Include standards that must be considered by any authority reviewing the
criminal history of individual with certificate:
1. presumption of rehabilitation in regard to the offense(s) covered by
2. the age of the person at the time of occurrence of offense(s)
3. the time which has elapsed since the occurrence of offense(s)
4. the seriousness of the offense(s)
5. the legitimate interest of the authority to protect property and the safety
and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.
REPORTING AND TRACKING
Require courts to track the number of certificates issued and denied and to report
the certificate issuance with disposition data for each case.
Require the state’s repository of records to make notations on individual criminal
records when certificates are issued and which conviction(s) the certificates
Require occupational licensing agencies to track the number of licenses
considered, denied, and granted for individuals who have certificates. The data
should be reported to the legislature.
Require an entity to maintain a statewide public list that reports the names of
individuals who have been granted certificates and that is accessible to
employers and other entities that have access to criminal record information.