'When Mercy Seasons Justice': Interstate Recognition of Ex-Offender Rights
57 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 2, 2015
To the great relief of many, states are now rethinking their draconian criminal justice policies of the past several decades. In addition to shrinking prison and jail populations, reforms are now underway to expand opportunities for relief from the collateral consequences of conviction, such as the loss of the right to vote, serve as a juror, or work in certain occupations, which can impede the ability of ex-offenders to successfully reintegrate into society. In coming years, as states seek to reduce their high recidivism rates, such relief efforts will likely continue to grow in number; as they do, we should expect to see parallel growth in an important horizontal federalism challenge.
The challenge comes when ex-offenders, having secured collateral consequences relief in one state, relocate to another and seek to have their restored status recognized there. When this occurs a legal conflict materializes not unlike that of late witnessed with same-sex marriage. Unlike same-sex marriage recognition, however, which was the subject of major public debate and legal attention, restoration recognition — despite its potential impact on many millions more lives — has been largely ignored. This Article aims to remedy the deficit, providing the first comprehensive examination of how restoration recognition thus far has been addressed, and outlining a legislative way forward for states, or Congress, to balance the important comity, federalism, and state autonomy interests implicated.
Keywords: collateral consequence, reentry, interstate recognition, full faith and credit
JEL Classification: K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation