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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 220744 Find in a Library
Title: Abolish Lifetime Bans for Ex-Felons
Journal: Criminology & Public Policy  Volume:6  Issue:4  Dated:November 2007  Pages:697-706
Author(s): Shawn D. Bushway; Gary Sweeten
Date Published: November 2007
Page Count: 10
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After reviewing the nature and effects of the lifetime bans placed on ex-felons, this essay concludes that although such bans may have some short-term benefit during the period when ex-felons are at higher risk of reoffending, offending-risk differences disappear after a relatively short time.
Abstract: Ex-felons are barred from up to 800 different occupations across the United States. Such bans may be warranted for occupations directly linked to offending history. Sex offenders against children, for example, should not be employed in jobs that involve frequent contact with children. Often, however, the occupational bans have no relationship to a particular offending history. Some lifetime bans extend into educational opportunities, child adoption and foster parenting, voting rights, public assistance, public housing, and marital dissolution. One area of criminology relevant to these bans is research on patterns of decrease in offending (desistance research) over the life course of an offender. Repeated long-term studies of reoffending confirm that the risk for reoffending tends to peak within 1 or 2 years after release from prison and then decline. Research indicates that lifetime bans are excessive and that a more rational policy should include time limits on various bans according to the findings of desistance research. Because lifetime bans bar entry into many types of employment; impede the formation of stable family units; and block access to education assistance, low-income housing, and public assistance, they prevent ex-offenders from accessing the benefits known to reduce reoffending. Short-term and long-term bans may be justified for particular offenders and offenses; however, blanket lifetime bans on all ex-felons, regardless of the nature of their offenses, are not supported by research and should be abolished. 44 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Ex-offender employment; Ex-offenders; Ex-offenders rights; Research uses in policymaking
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