A Clarksdale native who is the senior economist with the University Research Center of the Mississippi Institution of Higher Learning recently spoke before the Rotary Club of Cleveland on the intersection of expungement and economic growth in Mississippi.
Criminal records are known to stunt employment of ex-offenders for their entire lifetime, Dr. Sondra Collins told Rotarians during her Feb. 27 speech in neighboring Bolivar County.
She said expungement is seen as a way to integrate ex-offenders back into society and possibly increase the economic prosperity of the state at the same time. Collins’ research is in the early stages and she plans to publish a complete paper in the coming months.
She was welcomed to the Rotary Club by President Edwin Craft and Rotarian Vernell Bennett. Rotarian Billy Moore, dean of the College of Business and Aviation at Delta State University, arranged the program.
As senior economist, Collins examines the systemic issues affecting Mississippi's outlook, with a primary focus on longer-term issues, including the impact of unwed motherhood, obesity, education and the aging population, along with other issues. She works with members of the University Research Center staff to conduct research, as well as solicit research from the eight public universities in the system.
A primary responsibility is to manage a scholarly journal titled “The Mississippi Economic Review.” The objective of The Mississippi Review is to bring to light systemic challenges facing Mississippi and offer some insights into what policies have aided in correcting the challenges.
Collins earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Winston Salem State University and her doctorate in economics from the University of Alabama.
She served previously as an assistant professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. She also served as a National Science Foundation Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics (DITE) fellow.