Today, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law submitted testimony from Policy Counsel Danyelle Solomon to the House Judiciary Committee’s Over-Criminalization Task Force on how collateral consequences, essentially legal sanctions and restrictions imposed on people with a criminal record, can affect those individuals’ ability to reintegrate into society.
As the world’s leading incarcerator, the United States releases thousands of former offenders from federal and state prisons each year — almost 650,000 in 2012 alone. Many of these individuals are subject to various forms of collateral consequences that limit their ability to fully participate in society. When they fail to successfully reintegrate, there is a cost to all Americans — for public safety, the economy, and the well-being of communities.
As committee members continue looking for ways to improve our criminal justice system, the testimony urges Congress to ease voting restrictions and lessen the impact of criminal justice debt, and make other “changes where appropriate to remove unnecessary barriers in returning to communities as part of an effort to ensure our systems of democracy and justice are working efficiently and effectively.”