Legal Talk

Restoration of Rights

February 6, 2013 by Anna M. Clausen in Legal Talk
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is pleased to offer the “Restoration of Rights” database as both a resource for its members and as a service to the general public, a coll3ection of individual downloadable documents that profile the law and practice in each U.S. jurisdiction relating to relief from the numerous civil rights and other consequences of criminal conviction. NACDL today (10-24-12) launches this new section of its online Resource Center to house NACDL member and former U.S. Pardon Attorney (1990-97) Margaret Colgate Love’s comprehensive work on this topic in a user-friendly format. It promises to be an indispensable guide for defense lawyers as well as members of the public affected by the collateral consequences of a conviction and those re-entering society or the workforce after a conviction.

As a result of the twin crises of over-criminalization and mass imprisonment in the United States, the population that can be served by this tremendous resource is, sadly, enormous….[because] it is reported that some 65 million people, or one in four Americans, have an arrest or conviction record.

This new resource offers free assistance to tens of millions of people and their lawyers, offering an interactive map with individual profiles summarizing the law and practice in each U.S. jurisdiction and the federal system regarding relief from the collateral consequences of conviction, including obtaining a pardon, expungement and the restoration of civil rights. Click on a jurisdiction and you will get a short summary and a full profile detailing that jurisdiction’s law relating to both the loss and restoration of civil rights and firearms privileges and discussing any provisions on non-discrimination in employment and licensing. These materials will be an enormous aid to lawyers in minimizing the collateral consequences suffered by clients and in restoring their rights and privileges. There is also a set of charts covering all 50 states plus territories and the federal system that provide a side-by-side comparison that makes it possible to see national patterns in restoration laws and policies.

A team of pro bono attorneys at the law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP, led by partner Harry P. Cohen, provided significant assistance with this project, as did a number of law students from the Washington College of Law at American University and the University of Toledo School of Law. Detailed rights restoration acknowledgements are provided on the project’s home page, which is publicly available.

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