The Eternal Criminal Record

Harvard_Wreath_Logo_1.svgThe Eternal Criminal Record is the title of Professor James Jacobs’ new book, just out from Harvard University Press.  This is the first comprehensive study of criminal records law and policy, and it deals with a range of contemporary legal and policy issues ranging from how records are created and disseminated, to how they are used by public and private actors, to how they are maintained and (perhaps) eventually sealed or destroyed.  Professor Jacobs examines important jurisprudential issues such as the right to public access versus the right to privacy; the role of criminal records in punishment theory; how U.S. criminal record policy compares to other countries; and the intersection of public safety and fairness in imposing collateral consequences.

The book will be reviewed on this site in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, here is the publisher’s description of it.

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Disclosure of nonconviction records may violate European Convention on Human Rights

This is the most recent in a series of posts by Professors James Jacobs and Elena Larrauri 250px-Tudor_Rose.svgcomparing criminal records disclosure policies in the United States and Europe.  The decision of the European Court discussed below invalidated a policy of the United Kingdom authorizing broad disclosure of non-conviction records relating to child victims.  (The U.K.’s policies on disclosure are closer to those of the U.S. than they are to those of continental countries.)  While the U.K. has subsequently narrowed its disclosure policy, it remains to be seen whether even as amended the U.K.’s disclosure policy will pass muster under the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Expungement of criminal records in Europe (Spain)

This is the fourth post in a series about European law and policy on criminal records by Professors Jacobs and Larrauri.  Prior posts noted that public access is never allowed where a record has been expunged.  This post discusses the types of records that are eligible for expungement, how the expungement process works, and what the effect of expungement is.   (Professor Larrauri’s more detailed discussion of “judicial rehabilitation” in Europe is available here.)  – Eds. 

spainJust as there are variations in eligibility for and consequences of expungement in U.S. states, there are differences in detail in continental European countries. We focus on Spain, which we know best, though we have no reason to believe that Spain is an outlier when it comes to European countries’ law and policy.  (As in most all criminal record matters, the U.K. is more like the U.S. than continental Europe, making expunged records more accessible to the public than they are on the Continent.)

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European employment discrimination based on criminal record II – discretionary bars

To the American eye, Europe seems unconcerned about  criminal record-based employment discrimination (CBED). (The U.K. is an exception.) Is this because European employers do european_stamp-woman_riding_beastnot discriminate against job applicants or employees with criminal convictions?  If so, is that because European countries prohibit CBED, prevent employers from obtaining individual criminal history information, and/or provide potent remedies to people with convictions who are discriminated against?  Or, perhaps European employers believe that CBED is immoral or irrational because past criminal convictions have no value in predicting future conduct on or off the job?  Still another hypothesis is that, while Europeans believe that prior convictions are predictive of future dishonesty, dangerousness and unreliability, they also believe that CBED should be prohibited  in order to further more important goals like rehabilitation and social harmony.  Finally, perhaps employers in Europe do discriminate, but such discrimination has not been revealed through empirical research.  While there is no body of research on European CBED comparable to the employer surveys and field studies done in the U.S., there are some generalizations that can be made.

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European employment discrimination based on criminal record I – mandatory bars

There is no body of research on European criminal record-based employment discrimination (CBED) comparable to the employer surveys and field studies done in the United States. images-EUWhile European concern for informational privacy keeps criminal records out of the public domain, European countries do not prohibit employment discrimination based on criminal record. In fact, as in the United States, European countries make certain criminal records disqualifying for a vast range of public sector and some private sector employments.

This posting provides background on European, and especially Spanish, mandatory CBED. Our next posting provides background and discussion on discretionary CBED by private employers.

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International travel restrictions based on criminal record

Collat_ConsequencesBelow is another excerpt from the second edition of Love, Roberts & Klingele, Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction: Law, Policy & Practice (West/NACDL, 2d ed. 2015)(forthcoming), this one about restrictions on international travel based on criminal record.  The first section discusses the subject in general terms, while the second section describes restrictions on travel to Canada for individuals with a foreign conviction, and the methods of overcoming these restrictions.  (An earlier post described methods of neutralizing Canadian convictions for purposes of travel to the U.S.)

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American criminal record exceptionalism (I): A Spanish comparison

spainA comparative perspective is extremely useful for appreciating the status of individual criminal record information in the U.S.   In this and future blog posts, we would like to share information about criminal record law and policy in continental Europe and the U.K., including some important decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

We begin with Spain, the continental European country we know best. On the basis of past and on-going research, we believe that Spain’s law and policy on criminal records is representative of continental Europe. This is not surprising because, to some extent, all E.U. member states share a legal tradition and are subject to E.U. laws and ECHR’s judgments. However, to be sure, there are some national differences among E.U. member states.

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