OPINION: Samantha McAleese discusses need for reform on sealing criminal records

Assistant Professor of Critical Criminology Samantha McAleese wrote a piece recently published in Policy Options about the need for a more effective and inclusive criminal record suspension process in Canada.

She writes:

“More than four million people in Canada have a criminal record and face poorer social and economic outcomes because of the ongoing stigma associated with past convictions. These people should not get lost in the wake of a significant cabinet shuffle that unfolded in July with the naming of Dominic LeBlanc as Canada’s new minister of public safety, democratic institutions and intergovernmental affairs.

The current record suspension system (formerly known as pardons), which allows only some people to apply to have their conviction records sealed, is one of the important files that LeBlanc will oversee this fall.

 He and the Trudeau government should follow through on a long-standing Liberal promise by adopting an effective and inclusive system that would allow a fresh start for millions of Canadians.

The record suspension regime has been the subject of much criticism since changes were made to the Criminal Records Act in 2012. The application process is expensive, punitive and burdensome. Yet, the federal government has responded slowly to calls for change.

There have been small wins and shifts. But we can hardly declare that meaningful change has occurred more than seven years after Ralph Goodale, then public safety minister, vowed to overhaul Canada’s punitive program.”

Continue reading the full article on the Policy Options website.

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