Washington, DC (June 26, 2014) – The bipartisan Overcriminalization Task Force of the House Judiciary Committee held its eighth hearing this morning. National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Secretary Rick Jones, who is also the Executive Director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and Co-Chair of NACDL's Task Force on the Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction, was one of two witnesses at the hearing.
Mr. Rick Jones
Executive Director, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
Co-Chair, NACDL Task Force on the Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction
Mr. Mathias (Mat) H. Heck, Jr.
Montgomery County Prosecuting Attorney, Dayton, OH
Chair, American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section
On behalf of NACDL, Jones forcefully and effectively provided guidance to the Task Force on the steps that Congress must take to address the ubiquitous problem of collateral consequences on the federal level. Both of the witnesses agreed and recommended to the Task Force that all mandatory collateral consequences that apply across the board be eliminated, urging restoration of rights and a more individualized approach where questions of public safety are at play. Numerous members of Congress were clearly seeking guidance from the witnesses as to how best to craft the necessary legislation to achieve goals set forth by NACDL in its recently-released report and recommendations on this important topic. And Jones was unambiguous in making the point – with supporting data – that the burden of the collateral consequences of arrest or conviction, as the balance of issues facing America’s criminal justice system, fall disproportionately upon racial and ethnic minorities.
The hearing follows the May 29 release of NACDL's major new report: Collateral Damage: America's Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime - A Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status After Arrest or Conviction. With more than 65 million people in America having some form of a criminal record, the universality and import of the problem this nonpartisan report tackles is tremendous. Collateral consequences and NACDL's report and recommendations have been front and center in the press in recent weeks, including a New York Times editorial on the subject. Additional coverage has come from NPR’s "All Things Considered," the Washington Post, and Wisconsin Public Radio, among others.
A webcast of the full hearing, the written testimony of Rick Jones on behalf of NACDL, and that of Mr. Mathias (Mat) H. Heck, Jr. (Montgomery County Prosecuting Attorney, Dayton, OH; Chair, ABA Criminal Justice Section) will be made available here. Links to webcasts of all seven of the Task Force's previous hearings and the written testimony of all of the witnesses are available at www.nacdl.org/overcrimtaskforce.
To access resources and to learn more about NACDL's work on the problem of overcriminalization in America, visit www.nacdl.org/overcrim. On the subject of the collateral consequences of arrest or conviction, NACDL's recently released report, its Restoration of Rights Project, and more are all available at www.nacdl.org/restoration.
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