Redemption Project
(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, 85:457-534.

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 clemency applications to have civil rights restored, in accordance with Florida law.

In addition to employers being reluctant to hire persons with criminal records, a criminal 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 obstacle to 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 business licenses or a decent-paying job.”

As Public Defender, Carlos will continue to work hard to help ex-offenders lead law-abiding lives.

For local efforts to help ex-offenders re-enter their community please visit the Governor's Ex-Offender Taskforce and the Miami-Dade Reentry Resource Guide.

 

 

Redemption in Action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Law Offices of the Public Defender
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida

 

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