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Time to End the Scourge of Collateral Consequences: NACDL Offers a Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status (Inside NACDL)

By Norman L. Reimer

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  • A young mother of four who lost a bank job because of a previous shoplifting charge that was dismissed.
  • A decorated war veteran — a legal resident of the United States — deported as a result of a misdemeanor conviction.
  • A man who worked for a school system for 25 years as a boiler room engineer struggles to avoid termination for a years-old drug conviction.
  • A woman who cannot volunteer at her children’s school because of a 15-year-old conviction.
  • A 75-year-old man barred from public housing and forced onto a sexual registry because of a single incidence of public urination.

These are the human faces of collateral consequences — the silent penalties, the secret sentences that are inflicted on those who have criminal records in this country. No judge pronounces these penalties. Prosecutors do not ask for them. And defense attorneys frequently have no idea they exist.

But exist they do. And in a nation in which it is conservatively estimated that 65 million have criminal record

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