As a result of the twin crises of overcriminalization and mass imprisonment in the United States, the population that can be served by this tremendous new resource is enormous. Some 2.3 million people languish behind bars in America, more than in any other nation on earth. The U.S. also leads the world in prisoners per capita at approximately one in every 100 adults. More than 4,500 crimes exist under federal law, supplemented by tens of thousands more in the federal regulations, in addition to state and local crimes. As a result of this overcriminalization, some 65 million people, or one in four Americans, are reported to have an arrest or conviction record.
This new resource provides free assistance to those 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 how to obtain a pardon, expungement, and the restoration of civil rights. Clicking on a jurisdiction prompts 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 explaining and minimizing the collateral consequences suffered by clients and in restoring their rights and privileges.
In addition to the jurisdictional profiles, this resource provides a set of charts covering all 50 states plus territories and the federal system, with a side by side comparison that makes it possible to see national patterns in restoration laws and policies.
NACDL believes that a rational and humane criminal justice system requires that offenders who have served their time be able to successfully reintegrate into society. A guide such as this to aid in the restoration of one’s rights is essential. And during this 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, we are reminded that, as defense lawyers, our duty to our clients does not end with a conviction or an acquittal. It must include serious consideration and advice with respect to what might happen to our clients as a consequence of the resolution of their case. NACDL’s Restoration of Rights Project is a powerful tool to aid both the criminal defense and civil bars in the vigorous protection of our clients’ rights and interests.
Please, take a look at and share this incredible resource, which is available at www.nacdl.org/rightsrestoration. And listen to a new episode of NACDL's podcast series, "The Criminal Docket," intoducing the Project and explaining its purpose, available here.