The Interstate Hurdle to Restoring Ex-Offenders’ Legal Rights


As states begin expanding opportunities for ex-offenders to fully reintegrate into society—including restoring their ability to vote and serve on a jury—they will need to mitigate the legal conflicts that arise when formerly incarcerated individuals move from the state where they were convicted, according to a study published in the UC (University of California) Davis Law Review.

“Restoration recognition has major practical importance for convicted individuals seeking to reintegrate into society and for a nation grappling with the staggering human and financial costs of recidivism. It also has major federalism implications, creating interstate tensions similar to those seen lately in the case of same-sex marriage,” writes Florida State University law professor Wayne A. Logan in a study titled “'When Mercy Seasons Justice': Interstate Recognition of Ex-Offender Rights.” But unlike same-sex marriage, Logan continues, this issue remains “off the nation's radar.”

Restoration recognition will have public safety benefits and give policymakers the opportunity to follow policy experimentation from state to state as well as reduce recidivism in the state where an individual was convicted, Logan writes. But he cautions lawmakers to ensure that the policies don’t create opportunities for law evasion and “circumvention tourism.”

Read the full study, including policy recommendations for states and for Congress, HERE.

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