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Living it Down - Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974

NCJ Number
Anglo-American Law Review Volume: 8 Issue: 1 Dated: (1979) Pages: 60-64
A Samuels
Date Published
5 pages
England's Rehabilitation of Offender's Act of 1974, which is designed to help ex-offenders be free from inquiries into their criminal past, is explained and evaluated.
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, after a certain period of time without further convictions, an ex-offender is no longer liable for not reporting or acknowledging 'spent' convictions, while those who discriminate against ex-offenders because of such convictions of make public such convictions are liable under the law and subject to sanctions. The periods before convictions become 'spent' are 7 years for prison sentences not exceeding 6 months, 10 years for prison sentences not exceeding 30 months, 7 years for borstal cases, and 3 years for detention center cases. The statute, however, has numerous exceptions in its application to occupations, particularly professional vocations and licenses. Thus, discrimination against ex-offenders is still largely allowed in many desireable occupations. Further, the length of time required for a conviction to become 'spent' is of little help to the ex-offender seeking employment and reintegration into society immediately after serving a sentence, the period known to be crucial in determining the likelihood of recidivism. What is most needed is a massive public education program that can encourage employers and the public to give ex-offenders the opportunity to become accepted community members. The law, however, does give force to such an educational effort. A list of 10 references is provided.


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