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December 8, 2017

"Invisible Punishment is Wrong – But Why? The Normative Basis of Criticism of Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction"

The title of this post is the title of this new piece now on SSRN authored by Christopher Bennett. Here is its abstract:

This article is concerned with the way in which criminal justice systems cause harms that go well beyond the ‘headline’ punishment announced at sentencing.  This is the phenomenon of ‘collateral consequences of criminal conviction’.  This phenomenon has been widely criticised in recent criminological literature.  However, the critics do not normally explore or defend the normative basis of their claims — as they need to if their arguments are to strike home against sceptics.

I argue that the normative basis of the critics’ position should be seen as involving important normative claims about the responsibilities that societies have towards those who break the law.  Some important strands of criticism, I claim, rest on the view that we have associative duties towards offenders (and their dependants and communities) as fellow participants in a collective democratic enterprise, duties that are violated when states impose, or allow, harms that go significantly beyond the sentence.

December 8, 2017 at 10:11 AM | Permalink


The lawyer profession rides on denial and "constructed" doctrine. These collateral consequences are, of course, punishment, in real life, and are covered by Fifth Amendment due process. The lawyer pretends they are regulatory.

Intentional fraud. pretense, and lying, such as perpetrated by the Supreme Court should be prosecuted as an ordinary crime, despite their being part of an immunized opinion. All lawyer self-dealt immunities should be ended in a constitutional amendment. They are unfair, damaging to the nation, and not needed.

Posted by: David Behar | Dec 8, 2017 12:22:33 PM

Going to have to give David this on I agree.

Posted by: Rodsmith3510 | Dec 8, 2017 4:58:59 PM


Posted by: Docile the Kind Soul | Dec 8, 2017 8:03:47 PM

Collateral consequences for me have been:

Inability to obtain employment equal to my education level.
Loss of income. In my case, that's over $200,000 over 10 years.
Public humiliation by having a label placed on my driver's license.
Loss of family.
Loss of peer group.
Loss of property.
Exile from the community.

One might argue that if I hadn't broken the law, none of these would have been lost.

Posted by: Ken C | Dec 9, 2017 8:49:14 AM

Ken. I point felons to an article in Wired Magazine, Feb., 2015, on dumpster diving. Guy made $250,000 a year getting new stuff out of dry goods store dumpsters, and reselling it.

Beyond that job, I am curious if is harder to start a business from a regulation point of view. Would the township deny the person a license to sell lemonade by the side of the road?

In Pennsylvania statute, the discrimination must be relevant to the crime. So a pedophile can be kept from a job in daycare, but not from a cashier job. A thief may be kept from a job as cashier, but not in daycare. I actually disagree with this limitation because felons do not specialize, except in low morality.

If this OK, then collateral damage is collateral benefit, if you can start your own business, that is not relevant to convicted conduct.

Posted by: David Behar | Dec 9, 2017 11:05:30 AM

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