“These Are the Things That You Have to Learn”: The Misinformation Problem and Collateral Consequences Facing People with Conviction Histories in the United States

83 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2021 Last revised: 10 Nov 2021

See all articles by Alec Ewald

Alec Ewald

University of Vermont - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2022

Abstract

Policies known as “collateral consequences” or “collateral sanctions” impose civil restrictions on people with conviction records. This Article represents one of the first academic efforts to ascertain what people with criminal records know about the collateral sanctions to which they are subject. In thirty-two extended interviews with people receiving services from a reentry organization in New York City, I find widespread misunderstandings of these policies. In most of ten issue areas, majorities of respondents made significant errors in describing the law. Errors tended towards exclusion: interviewees believed the collateral sanctions facing them were more severe than they actually are, including in prominent areas such as voting rights. Simultaneously, these interviews demonstrate the ways people learn about, make sense of, and live with these policies. The results illuminate the daunting complexity of collateral-sanctions laws, the lived experience of carceral citizenship, and the need to better inform people with convictions about such restrictions and how they can be lifted.

Keywords: collateral sanctions, collateral consequences, carceral citizenship, custodial citizenship, re-entry

JEL Classification: K14, K42, I31, J7

Suggested Citation

Ewald, Alec, “These Are the Things That You Have to Learn”: The Misinformation Problem and Collateral Consequences Facing People with Conviction Histories in the United States (2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3929665 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3929665

Alec Ewald (Contact Author)

University of Vermont - Department of Political Science ( email )

United States
(802)656-0263 (Phone)

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