Project Description

The National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction is supported by a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of the Justice. This project was initially supported by Award No.2009-IJ-CX-0102 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and by the ABA Criminal Justice Section. The information about collateral consequences accessible through this website is solely for educational and informational purposes, and does not constitute legal advice.

Collateral consequences are legal and regulatory sanctions and restrictions that limit or prohibit people with criminal records from accessing employment, occupational licensing, housing, voting, education, and other opportunities. Collateral consequences most frequently affect people who have been convicted of a crime, though in some states an arrest alone—even an arrest that doesn't result in a conviction—may trigger a collateral consequence.

Some collateral consequences serve a legitimate public safety or regulatory function, such as keeping firearms out of the hands of people convicted of domestic violence offenses, prohibiting people convicted of abuse from working with children or the elderly, or barring people convicted of fraud from positions of public trust. Others are directly related to the particular crime, such as registration requirements for sex offenders, driver’s license restrictions for people convicted of serious traffic offense, or debarment of people convicted of fraud. But many collateral consequences apply to people convicted of any crime, without regard to any relationship between the crime and opportunity being restricted, and frequently without consideration of how long ago the crime occurred or the person’s rehabilitation efforts since. Collateral consequences with overbroad restrictions that offer no chance to overcome the restriction function as additional punishment and may discourage rehabilitation and ultimately increase recidivism.

Collateral consequences are scattered throughout the codebooks and are frequently unknown even to those responsible for their administration and enforcement. They have been promulgated with little coordination in disparate sections of state and federal codes, which makes it difficult for anyone to identify all of the penalties and disabilities that may be triggered by a criminal record for a certain offense.

While collateral consequences have been a familiar feature of the American justice system since colonial times, they have become more pervasive and more problematic in the past 20 years for three reasons: they are more numerous and impactfal, they affect more people, and they are harder to avoid or mitigate. As a result, millions of Americans are consigned to a kind of a permanent legal limbo because of a crime they committed in the past.

In recognition of the ever-growing increase in collateral consequences and number of people affected, the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007 (Pub. L. 110-177 § 510, 121 Stat. 2534, 2544) directed the National Institute of Justice to collect and analyze the collateral consequences for each U.S. jurisdiction. In 2012, the ABA Criminal Justice Section began working to identify and publicize all collateral consequences on the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction, a publicly searchable website. In 2017, the CSG Justice Center took administration of the site and continued the process of updating to identify statutory and regulatory changes.

The information available on the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction does not constitute legal advice and does not include judicial interpretations of statutory and regulatory language.

Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse this website (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided). The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/ exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice or the American Bar Association. NIJ defines publications as any planned, written, visual or sound material substantively based on the project, formally prepared by the award recipient for dissemination to the public.