News Release ~ 10/17/2011

Nat’l Criminal Defense Bar to Hold Hearings on Barriers to Re-Entry and the Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Record

Washington, DC (Oct. 17, 2011) – It has been reported that as many as one in four American adults have a criminal record, some 65 million people. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is a leading national voice calling attention to this matter of significant public concern -- the vast expansion in recent decades of the criminal law and its intended and unintended consequences in American society.

In addition to its ongoing work in our courts, legislatures and the public square to combat the overcriminalization of conduct in U.S. society, NACDL is also focused on the consequences of conviction – specific legal barriers, generalized discrimination, and social stigma – which have likewise become more numerous and severe, more public, and more permanent. They affect jobs and licenses, housing, public benefits, judicial rights, parental rights, interstate travel, and even volunteer opportunities. To this end, NACDL recently established the national Task Force on Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction to undertake an inquiry into how legal mechanisms for relief from the collateral consequences of conviction are actually working, in state and federal systems, and develop comprehensive proposals for reform. The co-Chairs of the Task Force are attorneys Rick Jones of New York City and Vicki Young of San Francisco.

The Task Force will be holding its inaugural hearing in Chicago, Ill., this Thursday and Friday, Oct. 20 and 21, 2011. Approximately two dozen witnesses over the course of two full days will testify before the task force providing a range of personal and professional experiences, perspectives and expertise on the important practical issues surrounding barriers to re-entry and the collateral consequences of a criminal record. Witnesses will include Judge Paul Biebel, Presiding Judge, Cook County Circuit Court, Criminal Division and John Schomberg, General Counsel, Office of the Governor of Illinois, as well as individuals who themselves confronted barriers to re-entry and other stakeholders.

NACDL’s Executive Director Norman L. Reimer explained the importance of this project, “The Task Force this week is embarking upon what will be an extensive, in-depth study of a matter that touches the lives of millions of Americans. Ultimately, the Task Force will produce a report identifying best practices, and specific legislative and policy proposals to facilitate restoration of rights and status after completion of sentence. The ultimate goal of the study is to help facilitate what policymakers across the ideological spectrum have publically embraced for years – the effective return to a productive, law-abiding path for those who have completed their court-ordered sentences.”

If you are interested in attending part or all of these hearings, which will be held this Thursday and Friday at a law firm in downtown Chicago, please contact NACDL’s State Legislative Affairs Director Angelyn C. Frazer at afrazer@nacdl.org by the close of business on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

Contact: Ivan Dominguez, Deputy Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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