Starting Over with a Clean Slate: In Praise of a Forgotten Section of the Model Penal Code
36 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2010 Last revised: 4 Apr 2011
Date Written: March 13, 2003
This Article proposes a legal framework for limiting the scope and duration of the collateral legal penalties associated with a criminal conviction. This framework is premised on a notion that the goal of corrections must be the full and early reintegration of a criminal offender into free society, with the same benefits and opportunities available to any member of the general public. It institutionalizes this goal by integrating it into the sentencing scheme, and making it an important responsibility of the sentencing judge. This concerned not only with the specific sanctions imposed by the legal system, but also with the degradation of social status often called “the stigma of conviction.”
Part I describes the law reform effort of the 1960s and 1970s, and the reformers’ vision of how rights and status could be restored to convicted criminals. Part II reviews the state of the law today, and concludes that restoration procedures in state and federal law have become less and less effective over the past twenty years. Part III advocates for the approach to restoration of rights in the ABA Standards on Collateral Sanctions and Discretionary Disqualification of Convicted Persons, and argues that it can best be implemented by the two-tiered mechanism in section 306.6 of the Model Penal Code. This mechanism seeks to accomplish an offender’s reintegration into society not by trying to conceal the fact of conviction, but by advertising the evidence of rehabilitation.
Keywords: Collateral Consequences, Conviction, Pardon, Expungement, ABA Standards, Model Penal Code, sentencing
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