There Are 44,000 Hidden Consequences Anyone Can Face After Doing Prison Time

person holding a piece of paper with a chain attached to it
Zain Murdock
February 12, 2024

In 1898, the Supreme Court upheld a New York state law excluding people with felonies on their records from practicing medicine. This case, re-punishing a doctor who had performed an abortion years earlier, was only the beginning.

Over the next century, these restrictions became collateral consequences.

There are direct consequences of convictions: prison, probation, fines. Collateral consequences are additional state and federal punishments and regulations. Think of losing eligibility for social services, voting rights, jury duty service, having various licenses, or accessing housing. 

It’s nearly impossible to name them all. Because, as of today, there are 44,000 of them.

Of these,30,000 have an impact on employment jobs. And 80% of them are permanent. 

These consequences are situated in a context of high houselessness and unemployment rates for formerly incarcerated people, feeding into a cycle of criminalized poverty and recidivism.

You can navigate the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction to learn more about what formerly incarcerated people are up against in your area:  

But we must also dismantle the logic behind collateral consequences in the first place.

Under the criminal legal system, punishment starts before we enter prison and doesn’t stop after we leave. It blames formerly incarcerated people for struggling to readjust to society, while encouraging a culture of ostracization and systemic oppression. 

But we can refuse to let that culture continue.

We have a quick favor to ask:

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