Relief in Sight? States Rethink the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction, 2009-2014

Source: Ram Subramanian, Rebecka Moreno, and Sophia Gebreselassie, Vera Institute of Justice, Center on Sentencing and Corrections, December 2014

From 2009 through 2014, forty-one states and the District of Columbia enacted 155 pieces of legislation to mitigate the burden of collateral consequences for people with certain criminal convictions. In reviewing this legislative activity, the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections found that states have pursed one or a combination of seven broad approaches to reform. They created or expanded expungement and sealing remedies; issued certificates of recovery; allowed for defense downgrades; built relief into the criminal justice process; ameliorated employment-related collateral consequences; improved access to information; and addressed discrete collateral consequences. By providing (1) concise summaries of representative legislation in each area, (2) an analysis of the their limitations, and (3) recommendations for making future efforts sustainable and comprehensive, this report aims to be a practical guide for states and localities looking to enact similar reforms.