Offender Reentry, Recidivism, and Collateral Coinsequences of Criminal ConvictionsThe consequences of criminal convictions follow offenders far beyond the completion of their sentences. Offenders face employment hurdles including stigma as well as legally mandated exclusion from hundreds of licensed professions. Other "collateral" legal consequences often include disenfranchisement, deportation, and restricted access to public housing, student loans, and other government benefits. Meanwhile, the criminal justice system and other social services provide only piecemeal support to former offenders reentering society, and recidivism rates are high. This seminar will offer an overview of these problems and explore a number of related legal, public policy, and empirical questions. For instance, can the collateral legal consequences of convictions be justified as aspects of punishment, and if so, should they be explicitly incorporated into sentencing law? Must defendants be given notice of them before pleading guilty? Do former offenders pose a sufficient public safety risk to justify long-term occupational restrictions? Should criminal records be sealed from public view? Do sex offender registries reduce sex crimes? How does the legal system's treatment of offenders affect their families and broader communities? Do diversion programs such as drug courts improve outcomes for reentering offenders?This course will meet for two hours a week, but students will receive threecredits to reflect the reading and writing requirements. Grades will bebased on class participation as well as a research paper (30-35double-spaced pages, or 45-50 pages if co-authored with another student).Class sessions during the second half of the course will be devoted toworkshopping outlines and drafts of student papers; one objective of thecourse is to give students experience in the process of producing andrevising legal scholarship.
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