Collateral Legal Consequences of Criminal Convictions in a Society of Equals

Criminal Law and Philosophy 15 (2):181-205 (2021)
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This paper concerns what if any obligations a “society of equals” has to criminal offenders after legal punishment ends. In the United States, when people leave prisons, they are confronted with a wide range of federal, state, and local laws that burden their ability to secure welfare benefits, public housing, employment opportunities, and student loans. Since the 1980s, these legal consequences of criminal convictions have steadily increased in their number, severity, and scope. The central question I want to ask is whether the infliction of these burdensome legal consequences for those who have already been punished by the state is consistent with the ideal of equality. I argue that these collateral legal consequences violate relational egalitarian principles of justice and are thus objectionable. I conclude by examining possible objections to my argument.



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Jeff Brown
University of Northern Colorado

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
What is the point of equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.
The Imperative of Integration.Elizabeth Anderson - 2010 - Princeton University Press.

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