Collateral Consequences of Criminal ConvictionsThe consequences of a criminal conviction do not end with the completion of the sentence. Convicted offenders face a vast web of "collateral" legal consequences--loss of government benefits, occupational restrictions, registration and notification requirements, residency restrictions, and deportation, among others--as well as social stigma and disadvantages in private employment and housing markets. In addition, a range of other legal and policy tools (from traditional parole to recent innovations in the "reentry" field) seek to reduce recidivism rates generally, and in particular to manage the transition of former prisoners into the community. This seminar will assess these laws and policies, their impact on individuals, families, and communities, and their public safety justifications. The seminar's approach is decidedly interdisciplinary. We will begin with a legal overview of the collateral consequences of convictions and an evaluation of the (mostly constitutional) theories under which they have been challenged in courts. After that, the class will largely be social science-driven, focused on empirical assessment of the costs and benefits of these policies. One of the objectives of the class is to build students' ability to read, understand, and critically evaluate quantitative research--an important skill for lawyers (courts, regulators, and legislatures constantly cite such studies), but often an underdeveloped one. You need not have any prior training in quantitative methods, but you do need to be enthusiastic about learning about them! Grades will be based on class participation and a final 25-page paper, and student papers will be discussed in class during the last weeks.
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