The federal government has 77.7 million people in its master criminal files, from felonies to misdemeanors—even if the charges were thrown out. That means the government has records on rougly one-in-three American adults. Once the FBI has a file, it will remain active for 110 years, even if a person wasn’t convicted or the charges against them were dropped. That’s problematic because have a criminal record can negatively influence housing and career opportunities. Regardless of whether a person is convicted, having an arrest record makes a person less likely to own a home and more likely to live below the poverty line at age 25.
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