Sunday, July 08, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, July 8, 2007


NCJ 218734
Ann Cammett
Expanding Collateral Sanctions: The Hidden Costs of Aggressive Child Support Enforcement Against Incarcerated Parents
Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy
Volume:13 Issue:2 Dated:Summer 2006 Pages:313 to 339

This article discusses the consequences of two increasing trends: mass incarceration and aggressive enforcement of child support orders against incarcerated parents. The main argument is that the aggressive enforcement of child support orders against incarcerated parents is a de facto civil sanction that creates yet another collateral consequence of incarceration that joins other barriers to successful reentry. The author points out how the system rarely makes distinctions between deadbeat parents and “deadbroke” parents who are unable to pay due to extreme poverty or incarceration. Additionally, this aggressive enforcement creates a disincentive for ex-offenders to participate in the formal economy and holds a host of unintended consequences for children and families. Opportunities for reform advocacy are identified and include suspended child support obligations for incarcerated parents, expedited administrative processes that assist prisoners with no assets in modifying support orders, the provision of partial or graduated waivers of support debt owed to the State, and a limitation to the practice of “imputing” income to unemployed parents. The author makes this argument by first examining the broader problem in increased incarceration rates, collateral sanctions, and reentry, particularly as they affect low-income communities. The history of child support and its enforcement mechanisms are similarly examined with a focus on the development of public policy following welfare reform efforts in the mid-1980s. Footnotes

NCJ 218733
Jocelyn Simonson
Rethinking "Rational Discrimination" Against Ex-Offenders
Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy
Volume:13 Issue:2 Dated:Summer 2006 Pages:283 to 311

This article focuses on the implications of rational discrimination on efforts to increase employment opportunities of ex-offenders and suggests a model for reform that rethinks the dominant models of rationality and morality as they relate to the employment of ex-offenders in America. The main argument is that a focus on the economic and public safety benefits of proposed legal reforms concerning the employment of ex-offenders can coincide with efforts to change the image of ex-offenders from the undeserving to the competent. The national rhetoric surrounding the employment of ex-offenders should be reformed to influence public perceptions of the position of former prisoners in American communities. The author contends that the massive numbers of ex-offenders released from prison following the tide of increased incarceration need the support of society and its laws if they are to succeed. If this reform effort is to succeed on a large-scale level, there must be an emphasis within both legal reform and public campaigns regarding the reframing of employment for ex-offenders as both morally appropriate and rational for society as a whole. In making this argument, the author begins with a discussion of rationality and morality in Federal employment discrimination law, arguing that there is a general sense that laws restricting the freedom of employers to reject applicants with criminal records favor offenders over employers who are making sensible judgments based on previous bad acts. New York’s article 23A, passed in 1976, is presented as a case example of legal protections for ex-offenders. Under this law, employers may only deny an ex-offender an employment opportunity when: (1) there is a direct relationship between the past conviction and the duties of employment or (2) the applicant’s criminal history indicates that employing them would create an unreasonable risk to public safety. Despite these requirements, New York State courts have diluted Article 23A by consistently deferring to employer decisions to turn away applicants with criminal records. The author also focuses her argument on employment discrimination claims based on disparate impact on racial minorities due to employment discrimination against ex-offenders. Footnotes

NCJ 218732
Christopher Stafford
Finding Work: How to Approach The Intersection of Prisoner Reentry, Employment, and Recidivism
Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy
Volume:13 Issue:2 Dated:Summer 2006 Pages:261 to 281

This article examines the obstacles to employment for recently released inmates and proposes solutions that work within the existing framework and infrastructure of institutional and community corrections. The main argument is that the criminal justice system is overly focused on prison entry and should refocus on prisoner exit to improve the plight of ex-prisoners seeking employment. Key reform efforts are identified as reconfiguring collateral sanctions to discretionary sanctions, preventative measures, reversing pressures faced by employers, and easing the reintegration of offenders back into society without sacrificing public safety and welfare. The author begins the analysis by reviewing the current employment position situation faced by released inmates. Statistics are reviewed that show that even prior to release, this population faces a bleak employment future due to low educational attainment, high rates of previous unemployment, and little work experience. These impediments to employment, coupled with the status of offender, produce a dire situation for inmates released from prison who seek employment. Solutions to the obstacles to employment facing inmates are offered and include risk-based collateral sanctions, employer incentives, and the integration of services within both penal institutions and parole agencies. The “collateral consequences” of conviction are discussed, which refer to the informal effects of negative stigma and other social consequences of being labeled a criminal. In particular, the author examines three categories of collateral consequences related to the employment and the economic well-being of offenders: formal, community, and the systematic consequences of conviction. Footnotes

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