Texans’ Support for Change
Click to view the pdf version of the survey results
As communities across the state recuperate from the throes of the pandemic, it is imperative that policy makers effectively leverage available resources and increase employment opportunities to help Texans everywhere maintain and achieve financial stability/wellness. In Texas, there are over 9 million people who have a criminal legal record. That’s more than 3 in 10 Texans; and the state has experienced an estimated $32 billion dollars in lost wages associated with those who have a record of conviction. This does not include those who have a record of arrest, dismissal, or deferred adjudication. Having a record decreases one’s chances of getting a job by 50%. In other words, sealing records leads to steady jobs, better wages, and financially stable communities.
In November of 2022, Change Research, in consultation with WPA Intelligence, conducted a statewide poll to determine, do Texans agree?
Poll respondents included a total of 2,333 registered voters, who were statistically weighted to be demographically and politically proportionate to the state. Participants in the poll were surveyed online about their general sentiments on second chances and their support for potential record-sealing reform. The results and methodology associated with this poll can be accessed by clicking on the image above.
A majority of voters in both political parties think that denying opportunities to people who have completed the terms of their sentence to be both unfair and unsafe.
Two-thirds of Texas voters support automatically sealing the records of those convicted of misdemeanors and lower-level felonies so that those records cannot be accessed by employers and landlords.
Seven in 10 say that denying people opportunities past the end of their sentence makes it harder for them to re-enter society and likelier that they’ll commit another crime.
Two-thirds of Texans say that states should remove barriers to employment, housing, and education to those with criminal records post-pandemic.
The vast majority of Texans support second chances, and oppose blocking people from jobs or housing, in all cases except for “the worst crimes.”
These findings, as well as Texans’ sentiments around second chances and record-sealing, highlight the degree to which Texans of all stripes want to end the system of blocking people from jobs and housing once they’ve completed the terms of their sentence.
Data from Tex. Dep’t of Public Safety. Total number of people in Texas who currently have any type of criminal history record that has not been expunged or sealed as of April 7, 2022, on file with Texas Appleseed.
$32 billion- Alliance for Safety and Justice. "Written testimony re: Re-entry Programs." Submitted to the House Criminal Justice Reform Interim Committee on August 24, 2022. This state-level estimate is extrapolated from national figures published by the Brennan Center for Justice based on Texas’s share of the U.S. population. Extrapolating based on the size of the Texas economy yields a nearly identical figure. See Terry-Ann Craigie, Ames Grawert, Cameron Kimble, and Joseph Stiglitz, Conviction, Imprisonment, and Lost Earnings: How Involvement with the Criminal Justice System Deepens Inequality (Brennan Center for Justice, 2020),
50% - Pager, D., Western, B., & Sugie, N. (2009). Sequencing disadvantage: Barriers to employment facing young black and white men with criminal records. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 623(1), 195–213. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716208330793.