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Reanalyzing the Prevalence and Social Context of Collateral Consequence Statutes

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 31 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2003 Pages: 435-453
Kevin G. Buckler; Lawrence F. Travis III
Date Published
September 2003
19 pages
This study replicated earlier research that reported descriptive statistics on State statutes related to the collateral consequences of felony convictions (limitations on rights afforded other citizens) in the 50 States and the District of Columbia.
Although technically discharged from incarceration, probation, or parole requirements, a number of U.S. jurisdictions have traditionally and continually imposed collateral consequences on felony offenders after the completion of their sentence. These collateral consequences have traditionally included limitations on the right to vote, hold public office, and sit on a jury; the right of the ex-offender to own a gun; and the right to retain parental rights. Also, many jurisdictions require offenders convicted of certain types of offenses to register with an appropriate governmental agency, and in some jurisdictions a felony conviction is allowed as a ground for divorce. In examining State statutes pertinent to such collateral consequences of felony convictions, this study followed the methodology of previous research undertaken by Burton et al. (1987) and Olivares et al. (1996). In addition to a systematic review of relevant State statutes for the 50 States and the District of Columbia, the study also compared the findings of 2001 statutes with the 1986 and 1996 findings of previous research. In addition to the aforementioned types of restrictions on rights, the study also focused on the denial of welfare benefits to women convicted of State or Federal felony drug charges. The review found that in the years after 1986 there has been a trend toward shifting from the collateral consequences related to political rights (i.e., restriction of voting rights, and the rights to hold public office, sit on a jury, and obtain public employment) to restraints designed to protect the public. These provisions include registration of convicted sex offenders, firearm restrictions, and termination of parental rights. The authors note that this trend has occurred in the context of a major shift in political rhetoric that has been driven primarily by media attention to crime-related issues and a corresponding increase in the public's focus on practical measures designed to increase the public's protection from persons who have previously inflicted severe harm. 2 tables, 6 notes, and 65 references


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