Second Chances: Expanding Expungement of Convictions in Georgia

When it comes to record restriction, Georgia is behind.

Criminal records create lifetime barriers under Georgia’s narrow expungement law. Unlike most other states, almost all convictions in Georgia stay on your record for life. Only certain misdemeanors an individual was convicted of before they turn 21 years old can be expunged. Even non-convictions may appear on an individual’s criminal record until they undergo the often lengthy and expensive process of restricting and sealing their record from public access. Criminal records create barriers to employment, housing, higher education, and other opportunities, long after an encounter with the criminal justice system.

The financial stability, structure and social networks gained from employment help people with a record reduce their likelihood of re-offending, increasing the safety and prosperity of all within the community. Studies have shown that:

  • Steady employment leads to a 62% reduction in recidivism among individuals with a record.
  • Fewer than 2% of people are re-convicted within five years of clearing their records.
  • A cleared record increases likelihood of employment by 11% and wages by 22% within the first year.
  • Record expungement leads to an average increase of $6,190 in yearly income per individual.

Through direct-service and advocacy efforts, Georgia Justice Project helps remove lifetime barriers to employment, housing, and higher education for folks with a criminal history.

  • Last fiscal year, GJP directly-assisted 560 clients with record restriction, sealing, pardons, and record corrections. 
  • GJP has been involved in the planning, coordination and implementation of 14 Record Restriction summits across the state of Georgia, serving over 5,000 people. These summits are opportunities for Georgians to restrict eligible charges from their record in one day, at no cost.
  • GJP’s advocacy efforts have resulted in 19 new laws in Georgia, including changes that: expanded access to record restriction to non-convictions; removed questions about criminal history on state employment applications (“ban the box”); and allowed first offender records to be sealed. 

Communities are safer and families prosper when rehabilitated individuals get a second chance. Join GJP in our push for a better criminal justice system in Georgia.