The work of the Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions is being continued by the ABA Criminal Justice Section through its Reentry Committee. The contents of this page are being moved to the Reentry Committee page.
Click here for the Criminal Justice Section Reentry Committee Home Page.
Roundtable on 'Second Look' Sentencing Reforms
On December 8, 2008, the ABA Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions sponsored a roundtable conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to reduce the prison terms of people convicted and sentenced for federal crimes. The authorities that permit reduction of the court-imposed sentence are known collectively as "second look" provisions, a term that originated in the project to revise the sentencing articles of the Model Penal Code. Second look provisions include those that authorize reduction of a particular prisoner's term in extraordinary circumstances, such as executive clemency, and those that are available on a more routine basis to all or most similarly situated prisoners, such as parole or good time. The roundtable format involved brief presentation of papers followed by a discussion among participants at the roundtable moderated by Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College. Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the roundtable for part of its afternoon session. The report of the roundtable and papers prepared for the conference are posted here, and will be published in the Federal Sentencing Reporter. An additional paper by Dora Schriro on good timewill also be published.
Collateral Consequences of Conviction in Federal Laws and Regulations
The ABA Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia are pleased to present Internal Exile: Collateral Consequences of Conviction in Federal Laws and Regulations. This study is an outgrowth of both entities' work on the effect of a conviction record on the availability of a wide range of benefits and opportunities, which in turn determines a person's likely ability to rebuild his or her life after a criminal conviction. While the study is first and foremost a compilation, and its presentation primarily descriptive rather than analytical, we hope that it will serve as a useful tool for criminal justice practitioners (including defenders, judges, and prosecutors); for persons seeking information about the legal rights and responsibilities of people who have a conviction record; and for advocates, legislators, and policymakers in determining which collateral consequences are reasonable and appropriate responses to public safety concerns, and which are not and what can or should be done to avoid or mitigate them.
Work on this federal study has been supported by a generous grant from the Open Society Institute. We were fortunate that Kelly Salzmann, the author of the PDS study of collateral consequences affecting people with convictions in the District of Columbia, was willing to take the laboring oar in preparing it. Through her experience as PDS' Community Reentry Program Coordinator, Kelly understood the importance of such a study for defenders in advising clients. She also understood the importance of making the study user-friendly for all criminal law practitioners, for judges and legislators, and for policy-makers studying the impact on recidivism rates of what has been described as a web of invisible punishment. Working for only a few hours a week in spare time from her day job, Kelly completed an extraordinary amount of work in a relatively brief period of time.
The origins of this project can be traced to the ABA's promulgation in 2003 of a new chapter of its Criminal Justice Standards that called on each U.S. jurisdiction to collect and analyze the collateral consequences in its laws and regulations. See Standard 19-2.1 of the ABA Standards on Collateral Sanctions and Discretionary Disqualification of Convicted Persons (2003). The ABA Standards identified two types of collateral consequences: "collateral sanctions," defined as penalties imposed automatically upon conviction, and "discretionary disqualifications," defined as penalties that are authorized but not required to be imposed. This distinction between automatic and discretionary collateral consequences was carried forward into a uniform law presently under consideration by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and more recently into Section 510 of the Court Security Act, both of which also call for a comprehensive inventory and study of collateral consequences.
The study describes the collateral consequences of a felony conviction arising under federal statutes and regulations. These consequences apply to felony convictions (or their equivalent) obtained in state, federal, and territorial courts, and in courts martial. Except where otherwise noted, they generally do not apply to misdemeanors, juvenile adjudications, or convictions in foreign jurisdictions or tribal courts. The issue of effective dates of particular disabilities, including retroactivity, is not addressed in any detail. While pains have been taken to identify all collateral consequences, there are certainly a few that have been missed.
The study also does not give a complete picture of the provisions for relief from federal collateral consequences. While federal consequences apply generally to all criminal convictions, state or federal, the provisions for avoiding or mitigating these consequences may differ depending upon the jurisdiction of conviction or the location of the convicted person's residence. In some cases, federal law incorporates state law relief mechanisms. In others, people convicted of state offenses have no recourse. People convicted under federal law generally cannot take advantage of state relief mechanisms, and thus may have no remedy short of a presidential pardon.
Margaret Colgate Love, Director, Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions