Civil Penalties, Social Consequences

January 5, 2005

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Since the advent of the Wars on Drugs and Terror, the volume of criminal convictions, incarceration rates, and deportations has increased dramatically, and the legislation imposing new collateral civil penalties stemming from certain felony convictions has proliferated. As a result, collateral penalties have become not only more severe but also unhinged from the traditional justifications for their imposition. These penalties including sanctions on certain types of employment, housing, education, welfare eligibility, parental rights, and protections from deportation have come to hinder, in very real ways, the life chances for a large number of disadvantaged individuals, their families and communities in the poorest sections of U.S. cities.