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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction


A recent Houston Chronicle article highlights the difficulty many with criminal convictions have with finding work.  It explains that one obstacle they face is that Texas law often prevents them from obtaining occupational licenses that would allow them to pursue over 100 different jobs such as barbers, nurses, interior designers, plumbers, and dog trainers.  According to the article, the Texas Legislature may address the issue in the upcoming legislative session, as support for reform in this area grows.  
  
However, these are not the only restrictions that people with criminal records face.  They must also navigate other “collateral consequences” of their conviction in many other areas of life such as education, housing, and voting.  As the number of collateral consequences has grown, it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of all the actual consequences of criminal conviction.  To address this problem, Congress included a provision in the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 (Pubic Law 110-177) that instructed the National Institute of Justice to study and catalog the collateral consequences of conviction for all U.S. jurisdictions.  The National Institute of Justice contracted with the ABA Criminal Justice Section to conduct the inventory.  The ABA announced last month that it has now completed the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction (NICCC). 

This unique, online tool provides information about federal and state law collateral consequences broken down by topics such as employment, occupational licenses, judicial rights, government benefits, education, political and civic participation, housing, and family/domestic rights.  You can view all of the collateral consequences for a given jurisdiction or search across jurisdictions.  You can also limit your search to mandatory or discretionary consequences as well as by type of offense such as felonies, misdemeanors, controlled substances offenses, weapons offenses, and more.  To learn more about collateral consequences and this new tool, visit the NICCC website.

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