Collateral Consequences: Protecting Public Safety or Encouraging Recidivism?
Date:  04-05-2017

Conservative think tank's report asks legislators to examine the harm collateral consequences has on successful reintegration
From the summary of The Heritage Foundation’s report Collateral Consequences: Protecting Public Safety or Encouraging Recidivism?:

Collateral consequences of criminal conviction are civil disabilities imposed by local, state, and federal lawmakers and sometimes by administrative bodies. They are distinct from the direct consequences of criminal convictions, such as a criminal record, fines, probation, and prison, and are often premised on the need to protect public safety once an offender is released. While some are certainly justifiable, collateral consequences that are applied indiscriminately, with a tenuous relationship between the restriction imposed and the offense committed, can make it more difficult for someone with a criminal record to reintegrate into society, thereby increasing the likelihood that an ex-offender will return to a life of crime and recidivate. Legislators should reassess existing collateral consequences to ensure that, rather than merely being imposed as an additional punishment, they truly make sense from a public safety standpoint. Legislators should also reinvigorate or create, if necessary, some procedural mechanism for ex-offenders to receive relief from unduly onerous collateral consequences in deserving cases.


Collateral consequences impose civil disabilities on ex-offenders’ exercise of constitutional rights.

There are over 46,000 collateral consequences at the state and federal level, with 60%-70% related to employment, which stifle opportunities for success.

Some collateral consequences unnecessarily frustrate reintegration and increase the likelihood of recidivism.

Download the full report here.