Criminal justice is impossible to achieve without a system of erasing past mistakes. A growing number of states and the federal government have enacted ways to erase past arrests and convictions. A criminal record limits a person's ability to pursue a productive civic life. That record can restrict access to education, employment, public housing, student financial aid, welfare benefits, military service, and the right to vote. Expungement typically clears the arrest and conviction record from the public view and thus ameliorates some of the negative consequences of having a criminal record. When a criminal record is expunged, it is as if it never existed. There are measures, such as the sealing of records, that restrict the availability of records but do not expunge them.
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