Certificate Of Rehabilitation Essay

594 WordsJul 9, 20113 Pages
Certificates of Rehabilitation and Other Forms of Relief from the Collateral Consequences of Conviction When a person is convicted of a crime in the United States his legal status changes forever. The statute books in every jurisdiction are filled with laws that disqualify and discriminate against people because of their criminal record, excluding them from jobs, occupational licenses, housing, and other benefits and opportunities. Some restrictions on convicted persons are narrowly tailored to protect against an identified public safety risk. Others are categorical, arbitrary, and without temporal limitation, without regard to any post-conviction rehabilitation. Even where there is no legal basis for disqualification, and even where jurisdictions have adopted a policy of encouraging reintegration of offenders, employers and others who control access to opportunities and benefits still hesitate to give this population a second chance. Given the current ease of conducting background checks, and (especially since 9/11) official encouragement to do it, it is harder and harder for people who have been convicted of a crime to escape their past, no matter how heroic their efforts to turn their lives around. The imposition of collateral penalties has serious implications, both in terms of fairness to the individuals affected, and in terms of the burdens placed on the community: “If promulgated and administered indiscriminately, a regime of collateral consequences may frustrate the chance of successful re-entry into the community, and thereby encourage recidivism. People who have successfully completed their court-imposed sentences need to be able to reestablish themselves as law-abiding members of society. At the same time, employers and other decision-makers need to have some reassurance of a person’s reliability. Every jurisdiction

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