Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

The Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction


In the United States and many other countries, the convicted criminal is subject to both direct and indirect sanctions that greatly restrict his civil and proprietary rights. In addition to a possible prison sentence, he may experience numerous civil disabilities during and after release from prison. In many states, for example, the convicted criminal may lose such rights and privileges as voting, holding offices of public and private trust, and serving as a juror. The criminal offender also may lose his family by divorce or adoption proceedings resulting from his conviction. He may have difficulty managing his property, entering contracts and obtaining insurance, bonding, and pensions. Ex-convicts also may be barred from a broad range of government regulated and private employment...Numerous studies have sought to determine the causes of high recidivism rates. A leading authority has concluded that the post-release conditions invariably associated with a prisoner's return to crime are economic deprivation and failure to integrate into non-criminal social groups. The federal government and a number of states recently have taken steps to alleviate these conditions by instituting various programs directed at rehabilitation of convicted criminals. It is clear that these efforts must be accompanied by a comprehensive evaluation of the role civil disability laws play in rehabilitating convicted criminals. The following Project undertakes this crucial task.