Massachusetts Proposed Expungement Bill

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Health Impact Project

This rapid health impact assessment (RHIA) evaluated the mental health effects of Massachusetts bill S. 900, which proposed to require that the state expunge criminal records for individuals who committed their offenses before the age of 21. Students in the healthy cities course in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted the RHIA between February and June 2016.

The study team did a comprehensive literature review, informal interviews, and a survey. Data analysis revealed that youth and young adults with juvenile criminal records are more likely to have mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, than the general population. The assessment predicted that passing the bill would help reduce disparities in mental health outcomes by decreasing discrimination, particularly during police encounters, and recidivism while increasing access to employment.


This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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