After a criminal conviction and the subsequent jail sentence, a person deserves a fresh start in life. This entails finding housing for themselves and their family, participating in the civic process, and securing the proper credentials to pursue gainful employment.
Unfortunately, this is not the experience that most people have after legal issues. Collateral consequences include a variety of serious effects that prevent a person from re-integrating back into society after paying their dues. This guide explains the many impacts that a criminal conviction can have on society.
Real-life examples of collateral consequences
Collateral consequences can affect numerous areas in life. They can prevent a person from getting approved for a mortgage or lease. They can inhibit their job prospects or stop them from accessing essential benefits to survive.
These consequences can also vary greatly from state to state. Real-life examples include prohibited adoption if a person within the household has a former criminal record. Professional licensing is another potential outcome, as the denial, suspension, or revocation of a license can take place in some states. A felony offense can even prevent a person from participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on a permanent basis.
How these consequences hurt communities
The hope for all people previously involved in the criminal justice system is that they can put their past transgressions behind them. This is often quite challenging, as many people find themselves mired in legal trouble due to lack of opportunities, extreme poverty, and societal disadvantages. As a result, people must be able to access opportunities upon release to turn their lives around.
The restrictions imposed by collateral consequences make this virtually impossible. Accordingly, many people find themselves resorting to the same habits and behaviors that caused legal trouble in the first place. This greatly increases the chance that a person will re-offend, which can throw entire families into turmoil.
Justice reform is desperately needed to prevent the effects of collateral consequences. However, people currently in the court system must know what consequences they might face after conviction.