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Beyond the Sentence - Understanding Collateral Consequences

NCJ Number
Date Published
Sarah B. Berson
Publication Series
NIJ Journal
This article defines and identifies some examples of “collateral consequences” of a criminal justice conviction and formal sanctions, and it describes a database that contains comprehensive information on the range and nature of these collateral consequences.
“Collateral consequences” are a “host of sanctions and disqualifications that can place an unanticipated burden on individuals trying to reenter society and lead lives as productive citizens.” Many collateral consequences of a conviction of any type can affect a person’s employment and business opportunities; others deny access to government benefits and program participation; the latter include student loans, housing, contracting, and other forms of participation in civic life. The Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 directed NIJ to conduct a national survey of collateral consequences. Through a competitive process, NIJ awarded a grant to the American Bar Association (ABA) to undertake a comprehensive, systematic collection of the collateral consequences of conviction for both State and Federal offenses in each of the 50 States, the U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia. In 2012, the ABA launched the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction. This is an interactive database of sanctions and restrictions across the Nation. Users can search by keyword, triggering offenses, or type of consequence at http://www.abacollateralconsequences.org. Among the more common collateral consequences in the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction are those that involve denial of employment or occupational licensing and those that affect tangible benefits, such as education, housing, public benefits, and property rights. This database will facilitate an awareness of and instruction in the consequences of laws and the practices of private institutions that unfairly discriminate against and disadvantage persons who have completed their sentences and are attempting to make a positive contribution as responsible citizens. 4 notes and a listing of 4 resources
Date Created: July 15, 2013