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Invisible Punishment is Wrong – But Why? The Normative Basis of Criticism of Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction

20 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2017  

Christopher Bennett

University of Sheffield

Date Written: December 2017

Abstract

This article is concerned with the way in which criminal justice systems cause harms that go well beyond the ‘headline’ punishment announced at sentencing. This is the phenomenon of ‘collateral consequences of criminal conviction’. This phenomenon has been widely criticised in recent criminological literature. However, the critics do not normally explore or defend the normative basis of their claims – as they need to if their arguments are to strike home against sceptics. I argue that the normative basis of the critics’ position should be seen as involving important normative claims about the responsibilities that societies have towards those who break the law. Some important strands of criticism, I claim, rest on the view that we have associative duties towards offenders (and their dependants and communities) as fellow participants in a collective democratic enterprise, duties that are violated when states impose, or allow, harms that go significantly beyond the sentence.

Keywords: associative obligations, collateral consequences, democracy, human rights, invisible punishment

Suggested Citation

Bennett, Christopher, Invisible Punishment is Wrong – But Why? The Normative Basis of Criticism of Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction (December 2017). The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, Vol. 56, Issue 4, pp. 480-499, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3083196 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hojo.12230

Christopher Bennett (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield ( email )

17 Mappin Street
Sheffield, Sheffield S1 4DT
United Kingdom

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