“Divergent moral vision” — Collateral consequences in Europe and the U.S.

A new article in the Stanford Law Review discusses the radically different forms of punishment in the United States and Europe, which its author attributes at least in part to differing moral visions of wrongdoing and wrongdoers.  In Two Cultures of Punishment, Joshua Kleinfeld argues that while Americans tend to regard serious offenders as “morally deformed people rather than ordinary people who have committed crimes,” European cultures “affirm even the worst offenders’ claims to social membership and rights.”

Kleinfeld illustrates this “divergent moral vision” by the very different approach European countries take to collateral consequences. (The other two areas discussed in the article are lengthy prison terms and capital punishment).  Whereas in this country people convicted of crime are subject to a lifetime of legal restrictions and social stigma analogous to older forms of civil death, and are effectively consigned to a kind of “internal exile,” in Europe people who have committed a crime benefit from numerous measures to encourage their reintegration.

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Japan restricts entry to many convicted people

Chidorigafuchi_sakuraJapan has perhaps the strictest conviction-related bars to entry of any country, extending broadly to many felonies (and even some misdemeanors) and without regard to length of stay or purpose.  Even when entry to other countries has been grante
d with an administrative waiver, as to Canada, U.S. executives of Japanese-based companies have found their landing rights denied when attempting to attend meetings at their Japanese headquarters. Protests to the Japanese Consulate in the United States have been unsuccessful.

Specifically, the Japanese Ministry of Justice has interpreted the restrictions imposed by Japan’s Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act to bar entry to anyone sentenced to more than a year in prison, and anyone convicted of a drug offense, felony or misdemeanor, no matter how dated or minor. conviction.

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Traveling to Mexico with a criminal record

MexicoMap550Searching for information on whether people with a criminal record may encounter problems traveling to Mexico, we found nothing relevant on the website of the Mexican Embassy in the U.S..  The State Department website contains only a very general warning:

Prior Criminal Convictions: U.S. citizens should be aware that Mexican law permits immigration authorities to deny foreigners entry into Mexico if they have been charged or convicted of a serious crime in Mexico or elsewhere.

However, the website of the Mexican Embassy in Canada explains Mexico’s policy in somewhat greater detail, listing the crimes that are likely to result in a refusal of entry:

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Mexico vacations out for sex offenders?

It appears that Mexico has inaugurated a policy of refusing entry to anyone registered in the United States as a sex offender.  While no formal policy has been announced, the body of anecdotal evidence supporting the existence of an informal policy is growing.  In numerous internet postings, vacationers report being turned back at the border or forced to take the next plane home, leaving their families behind.  There is no indication that people with other convictions are being similarly excluded.  The Mexican government’s new policy has been made technologically feasible by new federal data-sharing policies, including the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender website maintained by the Justice Department’s SMART Office. Members of the public may now do a free national search of all state sex offender registries, as well as all registries maintained in Indian country.  We will continue to monitor this situation, and watch for reports about exclusionary policies from other countries.

Criminal records and immigration in Europe and the U.S.

What are the emerging trends in Europe and the United States in considering a person’s past criminal record for purposes of travel, work and residency?  Professor James Jacobs of NYU Law School and three co-authors have just posted on SSRN a fascinating article titled Criminal Records and Immigration:  Comparing the United States and the European Union.   Research for the article, which will be published in the Fordham International Law Journal, shows that EU countries tend to focus primarily on public safety concerns in deciding the relevance of a criminal record for immigration purposes, including travel to and within the EU.  In contrast, the United States treats criminal record as “an indelible mark of bad character” that has become “the most important determinant of who is admitted to the country, who is removed, and who is offered the privileges of citizenship.”

While many U.S. practitioners and scholars are familiar with the ways a criminal record can affect a non-citizen’s right to enter and remain in this country, they will be interested to learn more about the complex and nuanced way that a criminal record can affect immigration to as well as travel and work within the European Union and its constituent countries. The authors ask the question whether increasing efficiency in access to criminal records in the EU will bring its laws and policies closer to those of the U.S.

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Access to Individual Criminal History Information in India

 

imagesIndiaIndia, like the U.S., is a federal political system comprised of states. In both countries, the states have primary authority over creation, disclosure, use and collateral consequences of criminal records, albeit within a basic national framework. Police and courts both create and maintain criminal records required to carry out investigatory and adjudicatory functions. However, unlike in the U.S., Indian court records are not systematically available to the public and law enforcement agencies are generally prohibited from disclosing individual criminal history information for non-criminal justice purposes. There are no private information companies engaged in selling criminal background records to employers, landlords, volunteer organizations, and curious individuals.

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Canadian travel restrictions based on criminal record

Most Americans can freely visit Canada. However, if you have a criminal history, you may be refused entry.  This post describes the circumstances in which a criminal record (including DUIs) will result in your being inadmissible even as a visitor, how long inadmissibility lasts, and what you can do to regain the right to travel freely to Canada.

Were you convicted?

If you were convicted of a crime in the United States or abroad, this will likely make you “criminally inadmissible.”  Even if you were charged with an offence but never convicted, it is a good idea to travel with all your court documents demonstrating that there is no conviction on your record. Carrying all these documents, though not required, is highly recommended to avoid any confusion or refusals at the border as the onus is on the applicant to demonstrate that they are not inadmissible.

Border officers have the option to deny admission on grounds that it is reasonable to believe a person committed an act that would be an offence in Canada, so that pending charges may be grounds for a finding of inadmissibility.  A guilty plea followed by dismissal of charges pursuant to a deferred adjudication scheme may also be considered proof of commission of an act.

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Collateral consequences of conviction in Greece

Collateral Consequences of Conviction in Greece[1]

by Dimitra Blitsa

1. Access to Greek Criminal Records 

In Greece, a criminal record is created for every adult[2] person who has been irrevocably convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony (i.e. by a decision not subject to an appeal before the Supreme Court). Unlike in the U.S. but consistent with continental European countries, a Greek criminal record does not contain arrest information. Individual criminal history records are considered “sensitive personal data.” Disclosure and access is restricted to protect the convicted person’s privacy and to promote rehabilitation. Although Greek court proceedings are open to the public, court records are not available for public inspection.

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India’s History Sheet

The following post concerns the use of police records in India, which are (like police records in this country) generally not available to the public, yet have important implications for individual privacy.  In a later piece the authors will discuss Indian policy and practice on court records, which are publicly available and may be used by employers and others to deny benefits and opportunities.  Ed. 

imagesIndiaComparative analysis is always good for the soul. As we think deeper and more broadly about the types, status and use of criminal records, it is helpful to consider laws and practices in other countries. Toward that end, this post illuminates the most salient and interesting type of criminal record in India, the “history sheet” and its cousin the “rowdy sheet”.  History and rowdy sheets are analogous to our criminal intelligence databases, but are more subject to legal constraints.  At the same time, they are more vulnerable to public disclosure because they call for intensive and frequently conspicuous monitoring both by police and civilian leaders.

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Retention of DNA Profiles and Fingerprints — Europe and the U.S.

227002_149789751758678_3078486_nComparing the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECtHR) 2008 decision in S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Maryland v. King provides a window on the very different legal status of criminal records in the Europe and U.S.  S. and Marper also illuminates the growing chasm between the U.K. and continental Europe when it comes to informational privacy and police records.  As illustrated in prior posts, many criminal justice practices that are common in the U.S. are regarded as a serious invasion of privacy in Europe, and therefore a human rights violation.  As evidenced by the caselaw discussed below, this includes the blanket and indefinite retention of DNA and fingerprint information.

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