We wanted to write a quick post about the most incredible and helpful resource we have found thus far: the ABA National Inventory on Collateral Consequences of Conviction. In a meeting yesterday with McGregor Smyth, an amazing attorney and advocate who founded the Civil Legal Services division at Bronx Defenders, and is now the Executive Director of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, McGregor told us about the ABA’s online database of the collateral consequences of specific convictions– both state and federal. We were so excited to explore the tool this morning that we had to share it on the blog!
As a refresher, What are collateral consequences of a criminal conviction?
From the ABA: “Collateral consequences are the penalties, disabilities, or disadvantages imposed upon a person as a result of a criminal conviction, either automatically by operation of law or by authorized action of an administrative agency or court on a case by case basis. Collateral consequences are distinguished from the direct consequences imposed as part of the court’s judgment at sentencing, which include terms of imprisonment or community supervision, or fines. Put another way, collateral consequences are opportunities and benefits that are no longer fully available to a person, or legal restrictions a person may operate under, because of their criminal conviction. The most familiar examples of collateral consequences are being unable to vote or obtain certain licenses or possess a firearm because of a felony conviction. But, as this Inventory reveals, there are many other kinds of collateral consequences affecting many areas of life, that take many different forms, and that are triggered by many forms of unlawful conduct.”
Why use the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences?
For all of us, practitioners, formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families, and citizens of the world, it can be very confusing and difficult to figure out the collateral consequences of state and federal crimes. It feels like we are banging our heads against a wall trying to help our clients, ourselves, and our loved ones. This database changes all that.
Through this resource, people can look up the state and federal collateral consequences of any conviction. Most states have been covered by the database; a few are still not included. California is! The site is very user-friendly. There are three ways to search the database: “Search by Keyword,” “Search by Consequence Category,” and “Search by Triggering Offense Category.” Each of these search features can be used individually or in combination. The searches themselves limit results from the database in different ways.
The ABA says: “To some users, this resource represents a way to locate particular collateral consequences that may be of interest, or to determine the range of consequences that may apply as a result of a particular kind of conviction. To others, this resource provides a broad overview of all the collateral consequences contained in a particular jurisdiction’s laws and regulations. Still others may wish to compare the laws and rules in different states, or do a national search for consequences affecting particular benefits or opportunities.”
The ABA has a great User Guide and FAQ page that can help you to understand how to navigate the site, but if you explore it for a bit, you will find its very intuitive, with a wonderful map where you can look up different state and federal consequences.
We hope you spend some time exploring this incredible resource. We are grateful to the ABA and its funders for developing this tool for all of us. We at Root & Rebound and our clients will be hugely benefited by this database.
Have a wonderful Tuesday!
– The R & R Team