I saw a poll which asked "Should Criminal Records Be Erased After the Sentence is Served?" I think the pollster asked the wrong question (for the right reasons though).
The REAL question should be about public access. Thanks to data-mining companies and Background Check services, every-ones dirty laundry is open to the public. That's because we all seem to think we have a right to know everyone else's secrets, while at the same time wanting to keep our own from public view.
At issue for me is the concern that convicted felons who cannot re-integrate into society upon release, will most certainly return to a life of crime. It may surprise most people but there are approximately 65 million adult American citizens with a criminal record. This makes them effectively un-employable because they are asked on most job applications if they have been convicted of some level of crime (misdemeanor or felony). If they say yes, they don't get the job. If they say no, a background check results in their being fired a few months after hire for "lying on their application."
Our society works on the presumption that if a person has commited even one crime he/she is no longer to be trusted, ever! This leads to a form of social exile, forcing ex-felons to congregate and associate leading to eventual recidivism.
Rather than erasing a record upon release, why not simply leave the record access to police agencies, prosecutors, and the courts? That's the question. Your thoughts?