(Helping Ex-offenders Lead Law Abiding Lives)
The Collateral Consequences
of Criminal Convictions
Law professor, Michael Pinard, in
Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions: Confronting Issues of Race and
Dignity, explores the various collateral consequences that attach to
criminal convictions in the United States. People convicted of crimes are often
ineligible for government-assisted housing, public benefits, and certain forms
of employment. Pinard argues that lawmakers failed to foresee the collective
and cumulative impact of these consequences when they expanded them dramatically
in the 1980s and 1990s, and they also failed to account for the disproportionate
impact these consequences would have on people of color.
Pinard compares the criminal justice practices of the United States to those of
England, Canada, and South Africa, which, like the United States, have similar
histories of disproportionately incarcerating people of color. He finds that
the consequences in the United States are harsher and more pervasive than in
these other countries. Pinard draws lessons from this analysis and offers
specific steps the United States should take to ease the legal burden on persons
with criminal records, as well as to lessen the disproportionate impact of
post-sentence consequences on individuals of color.
Pinard, Michael. 2010. “Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions:
Confronting Issues of Race and Dignity.” New York University Law Review,
In 1998, Carlos Martinez created the Public Defender's Redemption Project (Redemption)
in collaboration with other government and community organizations.
Redemption is an all-volunteer effort to improve the ability of former
clients to overcome legal obstacles to employment and help them obtain jobs.
Through Redemption, ex-offenders get help with
sealing and expunging
criminal records, and with
applications to have
civil rights restored, in accordance with Florida law.
In addition to employers being reluctant to hire persons with criminal records,
conviction can legally prevent a person from voting and from obtaining state
licenses for many jobs. In fact, more than 700,000 jobs in Florida are off
limits for ex-offenders who have not had their rights restored. However, a
convicted felon who has served his time can seek clemency and receive a
certificate of rights restoration. That certificate removes the statutory
employment and clears the way for law abiding ex-offenders to obtain many
jobs and business licenses.
Since 1998 volunteers from the Public Defender's Office and
community groups have assisted more than 6,000 people across Miami-Dade County,
through Redemption workshops held at community centers and churches.
Success has been possible due to the participation of the State Attorney's
Office, the Clerk's Office, elected officials, Miami Dade Weed and Seed, the
faith community, civic leaders, Dade County Bar Association’s Pro Bono Project,
League of Women Voters of Dade County, Florida International University Law
School, University of Miami School of Law, St. Thomas Law School, Miami-Dade
NAACP, ACLU of Florida, Brothers of the Same Mind, Haitian Lawyers Association,
Gwen Cherry Black Women Lawyers Bar Association, the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar
Association and other groups.
Carlos has been there on the front lines, not just by creating the Redemption
Project, but by being personally involved and supervising workshops that have
assisted thousands of people since the program began. Carlos supports efforts to
place the issue of the restoration of voting rights before Florida voters. He
believes that people should have the right and opportunity to work in gainful
employment. Carlos has said, “If someone has paid his debt to society, stayed
out of further trouble, and has outgrown delinquent behavior, then that person
should not be barred from obtaining
licenses or a decent-paying job.”
As Public Defender, Carlos will continue to work hard to help ex-offenders lead
For local efforts to help ex-offenders re-enter their community please visit the
Ex-Offender Taskforce and the
Miami-Dade Reentry Resource Guide.
Redemption in Action