Alaska Tops List of Collateral Consequences of Conviction Project
Project documents debilitating consequences people face after meeting all legally imposed penalties
March 28th, 2013- JUNEAU-Today, a bipartisan pair of state senators is applauding a decision by the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction (NICCC) project to move Alaska to the top of its list to inventory which state administrative codes and laws create consequences for individuals convicted of a crime long after they’ve served their sentences or paid their fines.
“Our legal system has created barriers to work, education, business opportunities, volunteerism, and housing – the very things that are necessary to prevent recidivism,” said Senator John Coghill, R-North Pole. “These so-called collateral consequences of conviction are scattered throughout the law books and are difficult to identify as well as being frequently ignored during plea negotiations and at sentencing. When it becomes apparent how many opportunities and privileges have been lost as a result of a conviction there may be little the convicted person can do about it. ”
NICCC is a joint initiative launched in 2012 by the American Bar Association and the National Institute of Justice to document the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in all U.S. jurisdictions.
“Right now, people who have been convicted of a felony may be ineligible for or denied certain jobs, professional licenses, and college scholarships. People with certain convictions may also be prohibited from volunteering and may be discriminated against by landlords,” said Senator Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage. “Massive amounts of research show these are the very things offenders need to get back on track, compensate crime victims, and become productive members of society.”
Senate Majority Leader Coghill and Senate Minority Leader Ellis sent NICCC leaders a letter requesting Alaska be moved to the top of the list so that the group can advance work on an Omnibus Crime bill to reduce Alaska’s rate of criminal recidivism.
“Some collateral consequences may be necessary to safeguard the public, like restrictions on firearms for those convicted of certain violent offenses. But often, there is no connection between the person’s criminal conviction and the current sanction and there is little room to make an exception or recognize rehabilitation,” said Senator Coghill. “The whole point of rehabilitation is to keep people from going back down that road of crime. If we take away every opportunity they have to rebuild their lives after serving their time, we are basically paving their way back to prison.”
The group plans to start legislative hearings this summer to address collateral consequences and other issues related to reducing criminal recidivism. To view the letter, click here.
Alaska State Senate