Scholarship roundup II – two new articles by Jack Chin

CCRC board member Jack Chin, Professor of Law at U.C. Davis, has recently posted two important articles about collateral consequences.  One is a general overview of various recent proposals to reform the way collateral consequences are treated in the justice system, which will be published as part of a report on scholarship on criminal justice reform edited by Professor Eric Luna. The other argues that under the Grand Jury Clause of the Constitution certain federal misdemeanors may only be prosecuted by indictment because of the severe collateral consequences they carry.   Chin and his co-author John Ormonde propose that “[m]ore thoughtful evaluation of misdemeanor cases before charge would often terminate cases which wind up being dismissed after charge,” thereby sparing less serious offenders from the stigma of a criminal record.  Because federal law makes no provision for sealing or expunging nonconviction records, even dismissed charges will appear on a rap sheet. Read more

Collateral consequences and the transforming effect of the drug war

Amid last week’s torrent of commentary about the downstream effects of the punitive policies of the 1990s came this extraordinary interview with David Simon of the Wire, who attributes the breakdown of community in Baltimore to the aggressive abuse of official discretion in the drug war.  While Simon’s remarks are not directly related to collateral consequences, it is not hard to trace to the same source the regime of punitive laws and policies that now bars people with a criminal record from benefits and opportunities affecting literally every aspect of daily life.

Case in point, from an NPR report aired last week: Tyrone Peake, trained as a drug counselor, is barred for life from working at a nursing home or long-term care facility in the State of Pennsylvania because of his 1981 teenage conviction for attempted car theft for which he received probation.  See Carrie Johnson, “Can’t Get A Job Because Of A Criminal Record? A Lawsuit Is Trying To Change That,” April 30, 2015.

Dismantling what Jack Chin has called “the new civil death,” like rebuilding trust between police and community, is the work of the next decade.