More than 620,000 people are released from federal and state prisons each year and return to their communities. This substantial number is nearly equivalent to the population of Boston annually. While these and other individuals have already served their prison or jail sentences, are currently serving probation or parole, or have completely exited criminal supervision, they still face numerous collateral consequences of their conviction or criminal history upon reentering society.  According to the National Institute of Justice, more than 44,000 collateral consequences exist nationwide. These include civil law sanctions, restrictions, or disqualifications that attach to a person because of the person’s criminal history and can affect the person’s ability to function and participate in society. For example, individuals with criminal histories can face barriers to voting,  serving on a jury, holding public office, securing employment, obtaining housing, receiving public assistance, owning a firearm, getting a driver’s license, qualifying for financial aid and college admission, qualifying for military service, and deportation (for non-citizens).  One scholar noted, “The United States has a uniquely extensive and debilitating web of collateral consequences that continue to punish and stigmatize individuals with criminal records long after the completion of their sentences.

06-13-Collateral-Consequences