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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

An Integrated Perspective on the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions & Reentry Issues Faced by Formerly Incarcerated Individuals (Michael Pinard)

  • Organization: Published by the Boston University Law Review
  • Author: Michael Pinard
  • Document Type: Article/News
  • Date Created: Monday, July 06, 2009
  • Submitted: Monday, July 06, 2009
  • Attachment(s): PDF

This Article advances the fusing of disconnected perspectives on reentry and collateral consequences by raising a unified voice that consistently articulates collateral consequences and reentry as interwoven and integrated components along the criminal justice continuum. These components are critically intertwined, as they heavily influence and directly impact one another. Collateral consequences relate directly to reentry and the formerly incarcerated individual's ability to move on to a productive, law-abiding life. Similarly, reentry is impacted directly by the constellation of consequences confronting the individual upon his or her release. Communities in turn are broadly affected by the influx of returning individuals weighed down by the obstacles imposed by their criminal convictions long after their formal sentences have lapsed.

The Article asserts that marrying these components broadens and strengthens the arguments previously advanced by commentators and advocates, while also providing a clearer scope through which to analyze these connected issues. This unified, integrated perspective more completely articulates the centrality of these components to the criminal justice system. In turn, this perspective will hopefully influence the debates surrounding these components, as well as the many actors in the criminal justice process who are in a position to directly affect collateral consequences and the reentry process. In particular, defense attorneys, prosecutors, trial courts, appellate courts, elected officials, and community stakeholders could benefit from an enhanced understanding of the intertwining issues embedded in collateral consequences and reentry. These actors could use this integrated approach to better shape litigation and practice-based strategies, resulting in more positive outcomes both for the individuals involved and for their communities.

Part I of this Article provides a background of collateral consequences and reentry. Part II offers a look at the literature devoted to both of these components, and provides an overview of various practices related to reentry. Part III sets out the compartmentalization of collateral consequences and reentry: the scholarly focus in the literature on collateral consequences, the focus of appellate court decisions on collateral consequences as opposed to issues implicated in reentry, and the practical focus by community and legal services organizations on strategies devoted to reentry. Part IV offers some potential explanations for these stratified perspectives and practices. Part V explores the direct link between collateral consequences and reentry, and asserts that a unified, integrated perspective broadens the context within which to analyze the intertwining legal and policy issues. The Article concludes that while this integrated perspective answers some of the thorny questions regarding collateral consequences and reentry it presents several others that will hopefully be addressed in the near future.

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