Across the nation, a key issue that threatens the positive impact of reentry research and practices is a massive network of public policies that revoke the legal rights of those with criminal histories in areas of employment, education, housing, voting, and family composition. Emerging research documents the negative impacts these policies can have on reentering prisoner outcomes. Some have suggested that they threaten, rather than promote, public safety. The Institute partners will work with public officials and others to identify and propose evidence-driven reforms to policies that present undue barriers to success. At the same time, we work with policy stakeholders to generate policy innovations that increase the likelihood of post-incarceration success and build capacity in communities in which high numbers of incarcerated individuals return. Policy innovations and reforms may surface at local, state, or national levels. The Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation engages with policy stakeholders using simulation models, policy briefs, researching model legislation, and co-hosting policy forums.
The Institute Team is currently working to identify areas of momentum and gaps as research targets over the next five years. Contact us to provide your input.
A Primer on Civil Disability Public Policies:
Civil disabilities in the United States are anachronistic punishments carried over from the European practice of "civil death" in which a person was permanently excluded from civic participation as a result of certain criminal convictions. Civil disabilities are legal penalties or sanctions that limit convicted individuals' access to social, economic, and political participation without constitutional protections related to criminal law such as effective assistance of counsel, proportionality of punishment, and adequacy of notice. Examples of civil disabilities include ineligibility for access to housing, student loans, professional licensure, certain forms of employment, and denial of voting and parental rights.
Coinciding with the era of mass incarceration in the United States was the proliferation of civil disability policies. There are now an estimated 40,000 laws producing civil disabilities nationwide, which has created a patchwork of policies that severely limit the rights and daily behaviors of people with criminal convictions. The extensive network of civil disability policies in the United States undermine the very facets of a person's life that have been proven to facilitate successful reentry and productive participation in communities.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center, is national organization that supports all states in promoting data driven criminal justice practices. They are particularly interested in the intersection of criminal justice with other disciplines like public health and public safety. The organization has taken over a National Inventory of Collaterall Consequences (NICC) that are searchable by state. This national inventory was originally started by the National Bar Association with the help of U.S. Department of Justice. The inventory, is located here: https://niccc.csgjusticecenter.org/.
Nationwide Policy Reform
The Reforms of Policy Barriers to Positive and Productive Community Engagement of Individuals with Felony Histories: Perliminary Report, provides a brief overview of the reform efforts that have thus far been identified to either eliminate or ameliorate existing civil disability policies at the state level between 2010 and 2017. The first section of the report includes a state-level analysis of the reforms. Next, the second section takes an aggregate view of the reform efforts organized by United States Census regions and divisions.