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ABA Study of Collateral Consequences for Criminal Convictions

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $707,924)

Collateral sanctions and discretionary disqualifications for criminal behavior may be punitive and intended to impose costs or regulatory and intended to protect communities. These sanctions and disqualifications impact an individual's chances of successfully re-entering his/her community and avoiding recidivism. In most jurisdictions one cannot readily find a comprehensive inventory of the sanctions and disqualifications that are imposed as a result of convictions, or the provisions for relief from these consequences. Without knowledge as to the actual scope of sanctions and disqualifications, it is difficult if not impossible to determine whether they should be retained, modified, or abolished. The ABA will compile a comprehensive inventory of the collateral consequences of criminal convictions in the laws and practices of federal, state, and territorial jurisdictions. ABA will employ three primary approaches: (1) direct review of statutes and regulations, (2) contact with public agencies in each jurisdiction to identify local rules and regulations that might not be readily accessible, and (3) a survey of legal professionals in each jurisdiction who have actual experience with sanctions and disqualifications.

All provisions will be categorized by offense type, consequence type, duration of each consequence, and any specific routes to relief from the consequence.

The Criminal Justice Section of the ABA is currently operating as a grantee under grant number 2009-IJ-CX-0102. The grant objective is to compile a comprehensive catalog of collateral consequences of criminal convictions. As specified in the grant application, the primary goal of the project is to create a functional database and website allowing users to find all of the consequences attached to specific criminal convictions. After the original grant award, ABA discovered that there is no national compilation of crimes and that ABA must collect and compile all state and federal crimes to deliver a truly functional product. For this database to be a functional user friendly website the user needs to be able to enter a specific crime and jurisdiction and then be advised of the collateral consequences that will apply to him or her. In order to do that ABA researchers will code triggering offense(s) for each collateral consequence statute. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these collateral consequences statutes apply to large groups of crimes, examples are: all crimes, all felonies, class A and B felonies, crimes of moral turpitude and crimes involving children or sexual acts. A collateral consequences statute rarely lists out the specific crimes that trigger the consequences. Therefore, in order to have this important function ABA will need to populate every one of these groups with all of the applicable statutes. The Lexis Nexis research partners estimated that simply populating the categories: all crimes and all felonies would take about 40 hours per state. Completing this more detailed coding of triggering offenses will require additional funding.nca/ncf

1. Goals and Objectives
The purpose of the project is to maintain and update the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction (NICCC) database. The NICCC database is the end product of the National Institute of Justice's 2009 grant to the American Bar Association to produce a searchable, online database of the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction for each jurisdiction in the United States. (Grant No. 2009-IJ-CX-0102) The information currently in the NICCC database is time sensitive, and without continued review will ultimately impact the integrity of the database. While the database was completed mid-year 2014, the impact on policy reform, academic examination, and general use of the database is ongoing, but reflect a multi-year process. Only after a sufficient amount of time has passed can there be any defined examination of the effect of the database. In the short time between completion of the database and this submission, anecdotally, the ABA is aware that the public has already begun to use the database for research purposes, plea negotiations, and legislative reform. By continuing to support this database, this project will likely continue to be a resource for the public to consider collateral consequences of a criminal conviction.
2. Subjects
3. Research Design and Methods
This project contemplates maintenance and updating of the NICCC database in two regards: technological infrastructural development and substantive review. The technological infrastructural development will integrate the current data-entry system with the current public website. The programmer will design a new integrated data-entry system. This will allow for easier and quicker integration of the data, and will increase the lifespan of the website. The substantive review will require annual examination of all new legislation for collateral consequences that have been newly-enacted, revised, or deleted, and update the database accordingly. The schedule for updating is dictated by LexisNexis, the legislative, legal database, amendment schedule to their databases. The updating of the substantive data continues to implement the coding protocols contained in the original NICCC grant's coding manual.
4. Analysis
The project will continue to institute a two-tiered review process of all revised entries and identified search results for compliance with coding protocols. Ultimately, feedback from the public will augment the internal review procedures.
5. Products, Reports, and Data Archiving
The end result of the project is a database that will be updated for the next year. The database is downloadable and exportable in an Excel spreadsheet format and may be archived under NIJ's Data Resource Program. However, to the extent that the data is replicated or reproduced in its entirety, there should be protections to ensure that data is not presented in such a way as to mislead or mis-inform the public. nca/ncf

Date Created: September 9, 2009