American Bar Association highlights collateral consequences of criminal records

on Thursday - June 27, 2013.

A recent article by the American Bar Association draws attention to the collateral consequences faced by people with a criminal record 

Here's how the article describes collateral consequences:

"any consequences of conviction not handed down by a court. They include a multitude of legal restrictions, the best known of which might be loss of the rights to vote and own a firearm. Collateral consequences also include the unofficial social stigmas that confront ex-offenders, such as trouble finding a job and the damage prison does to the ex-con's skills and abilities."

Furthermore, the article points out, "since the mid-1980s, the number of official collateral consequences has expanded dramatically. Some estimates speculate that today's ex-offenders could face up to 50,000 legally mandated collateral consequences, including restrictions on housing, employment, public benefits and immigration."

The article highlights some efforts to address the issue of collateral consequences:

"more and more stakeholders are now calling for reform to remove collateral consequences. By creating obstacles between ex-offenders and a new life, advocates say, collateral consequences may even encourage recidivism.

"Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation is an attorney and policy director of the Right on Crime project, which makes a politically conservative case for criminal justice reform.

"A lot of modern research has shown that you want to make the path of law-abidingness very attractive," Levin says, "and you want to make the path of continuing to break the law very unattractive. So that calls into question the habit in our society of continuing to punish people for many years . . .

"Reformers agree that collateral consequences can be effective if they relate to the type of offense and the risk of recidivism—for example, banning convicted child molesters from working with children. But other restrictions have little or no relationship to the prior conviction, they say.

"As a result, there's evidence that collateral consequences actually hurt ex-offenders' efforts to keep their lives on track."

See the full article at: http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/ex-offenders_face_tens_of_thousands_of_legal_restrictions/

The ABA also has created a searchable online database of collateral consequences by state at: http://www.abacollateralconsequences.org/