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U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Calls for Limiting Collateral Consequences for People With Criminal Records

“More than 44,000 collateral consequences exist nationwide that continue to punish people with felony records long after the completion of their sentence. Today the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is releasing Collateral Consequences: The Crossroads of Punishment, Redemption and the Effects on Communities, a report highlighting the relevant data and arguments for and against the imposition of collateral consequences on people with felony convictions. The report finds that many collateral consequences are unrelated either to the underlying crime or to a public safety purpose. In these circumstances, the imposition of collateral consequences “negatively affects public safety and the public good.” The Commission’s research and analysis was based in part by expert and public input, including testimony by The Sentencing Project’s Marc Mauer on the negative impacts of felony disenfranchisement laws. The report offers actionable recommendations to the President, Congress, and numerous federal agencies. The Commission’s recommendations include:

  • Avoiding punitive mandatory consequences that do not serve public safety, bear no rational relationship to the offense committed, and impede people convicted of crimes from safely reentering society
  • Eliminating restrictions on welfare benefits and food stamps based on felony drug convictions
  • Limiting discretion of public housing providers to bar people with criminal convictions from accessing public housing
  • Lifting restrictions on access to student loans based on criminal convictions and removing the federal ban on Pell Grants to fund in-prison college programs
  • Encouraging states to restore voting rights to people upon completion of their prison sentence…”

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