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."

Collateral Consequences Database launched by American Bar Association

on Tuesday - September 25, 2012.

Even after someone has served their sentence for a criminal conviction, they may be restricted from certain jobs or occupations, restricted from receiving certain government benefits, denied access to certain educational programs or types of housing, and remain under other penalties or consequences.  Returning citizens, their families and the professionals who work with them may not even be aware of or understand these restrictions or know which ones apply or don't apply to their situation.

The American Bar Association has created a new online, searchable database containing information on federal and state restrictions on employment, housing, education, voting rights, family/parental rights, occupational licenses, government benefits and other restrictions on people convicted of various crimes.  The ABA created this database as part of an effort to document the extensive and often confusing federal and state laws that impose "collateral consequences" of a criminal conviction. 

The ABA site defines "collateral consequences" this way:

"Collateral consequences are the penalties, disabilities, or disadvantages imposed upon a person as a result of a criminal conviction, either automatically by operation of law or by authorized action of an administrative agency or court on a case by case basis. Collateral consequences are distinguished from the direct consequences imposed as part of the court's judgment at sentencing, which include terms of imprisonment or community supervision, or fines. Put another way, collateral consequences are opportunities and benefits that are no longer fully available to a person, or legal restrictions a person may operate under, because of their criminal conviction."  (from the "User Guide / Frequently Asked Questions" document)

At this point, the database contains information on collateral consequences in 9 states.  They will continue to document and upload information on other states in the coming weeks and months.  

Access the Collateral Consequences Database here

Reentry "Mythbusters" from Federal Interagency Reentry Council

on Friday - June 01, 2012.

The Federal Interagency Reentry Council is a collaborative network of 20 federal agencies working to "make communities safer by reducing recidivism and victimization; assist those who return from prison and jail in becoming productive citizens; and save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration." 

The group was first established in January 2011, and is chaired by Attorney General Eric Holder.

One of the group's first efforts was to assemble a set of "Reentry Mythbusters", described as:

"fact sheets, designed to clarify existing federal policies that affect formerly incarcerated individuals and their families in areas such as public housing, access to benefits, parental rights, employer incentives, Medicaid suspension/termination, and more."

The full set of "Reentry Mythbusters" is available HERE.

New National Report: Housing as a Platform for Formerly Incarcerated Persons

on Tuesday - May 22, 2012.

A national research partnership group called the "What Works Collaborative" has just published a report on housing as a "pathway toward more successful reentry and reintegration for formerly incarcerated persons." The report covers housing options and barriers for people coming out of prison, and reviews several case studies of specific housing models and the characteristics of those models that can "lead to better outcomes for formerly incarcerated persons." The models reviewed in this report include peer-led, mutual help models such as Oxford Houses, and supportive housing models. In addition, the report highlights the critical connections between housing stability and employment success. Finally, the report outlines areas where additional research is needed to further explore linkages between housing and successful outcomes for people returning to the community after incarceration. The full report is available here

New Resource on Expanding Housing Options

Written by Scott J. Sheely on Monday - August 23, 2010.

New York: Successful prisoner reentry often hinges on individuals finding stable housing that can help them break the cycle of reincarceration. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center released a new publication in May 2010 entitled, "Reentry Housing Options: The Policymakers' Guide", which provides practical steps that lawmakers and others can take to increase public safety through better access to affordable housing for individuals released to the community. For a downloadable copy, click here.

Reentry Housing Options is the result of a project supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice. The guide provides an overview of several commonly accessed housing options, including the benefits and limitations of six of these options: private-market rentals, public housing, affordable housing, halfway houses, supportive housing, and specialized reentry housing.  Stories from Salt Lake City, Chicago, and Wichita are documented.