Source: (2006) The Prison Journal. 86(4); 452-469.

Expunging a criminal conviction in the United States is a rare event and often limited to persons who committed offenses as juveniles or adult misdemeanants. Criminal convictions in Canada, however, are routinely set aside through pardons after offenders have demonstrated a period of crime-free behavior. Sealing an offender’s criminal record, the practice in Canada, is a significant step in his or her reentry into society and official acknowledgment of society’s forgiveness. This exploratory study of pardons in Canada has two clear findings: First, despite the relatively easy process, few individuals with criminal records make application for pardons. Second, of those who do apply, few applications are ever denied, and a very small percentage of successful applicants reoffend. Although setting aside criminal convictions seems inconsistent with the increasing use of collateral consequences for U.S. offenders, taking this approach might contribute to increased public safety in the long term by easing offender reintegration.