The American Bar Association in conjunction with the Justice Department have launched a new website that allows users to search federal and state laws that punish convicted criminals far after they have served their punishment. A criminal record can keep a person from finding legitimate work or obtaining housing, which ironically can motivate a person to commit more crimes.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted how vital it is to understand what these “collateral consequences” can mean for those who have been convicted of crimes.
At the unveiling, Chairman Leahy stated that a person with a criminal conviction “may lose their right to vote, they may lose their right to hold certain licenses to practice a profession, sometimes even lose the right of where they can live.”
You can find the website at www.abacollateralconsequences.org.
The website includes information on state laws in Vermont, Minnesota, Iowa, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin, South Carolina and New York. More states should be coming soon.
Daryl Atkinson, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, stated that the website “is literally lifting the veil on these invisible punishments. When I think about my personal experiences...40 months of incarceration was a blip on the radar screen of life. When I’m released I face this web of invisible punishments that I knew nothing about.”
Atkinson hopes the website will be an aide to lawyers, “so they can give their clients a real true assessment of what their criminal justice involvement is going to be and the ramifications of that involvement.”