After advocating for others for almost a decade as a criminal state and federal defense attorney, I found myself on the other side of the table as a defendant.
As a first time, non-violent offender, I was sentenced to 36 months imprisonment. I ultimately served 1yr and 10 days and placed on 3yrs probation.
I served my time, yet my rights have not been restored because of Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions. Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions as defined by www.USLegal.com are “the various consequences which are beyond the terms of the conviction under federal and state laws…….it is the result of the arrest, prosecution or conviction that is not part of the sentence imposed.” In layman terms, collateral consequences of criminal convictions are consequences that are imposed or are the result of the conviction or arrest. For example – losing voting rights, losing public housing or other supportive services, losing professional licenses, not being able to obtain federal student loans and probation to name a few. The American Bar Association under its Criminal Law Section has a listing of over 45,000 federal and state statutes and regulations broken down by state that impose collateral consequences of convictions upon people convicted of a crime.
If the purpose of the legal system is to return us to the place we were before incarceration through REHABILITATION with an even greater sense of ACCOUNTABILITY to self and to our communities, we must be able to come full circle and be made whole again. For instance, if the system is truly about rehabilitation, why couldn’t I be reinstated by the Bar and resume my practice of law upon release? Why can’t barbers and beauticians be relicensed upon release? Why aren’t voting rights restored immediately upon release?
I am in favor of reducing recidivism, increasing public safety and economic growth, however, in order to accomplish this, barriers to housing, employment and supportive services must be removed for returning citizens in order to have successful reintegration. Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions are an unnecessary barriers to successful reintegration.
We must create systems that more effectively serve this population, we must have the desire to provide the resources to restore human dignity and human potential to all returning citizens.
I am a believer that there are no extraordinary people. I believe that people are given extraordinary opportunities. Every Voter in the United States has the extraordinary opportunity by effecting legislation or repealing legislation that will do away with all collateral consequences of criminal convictions.
We must become a Nation of Second Chances! Where “Time Served” Means “Time Served.” By removing unnecessary barriers to successful reintegration for our returning citizens.
Dee G. Rainer, JD
Former State and Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer; and
Committed Criminal Justice Reform Advocate;
That has been directly impacted by the criminal justice system;