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Objective

This article seeks to analyze varying collateral-consequences policies—laws restricting the rights and privileges of people who have had contact with the criminal-justice system, particularly those with conviction records—in the American states.

Methods

State policies in eight areas are examined, coded, and combined into an eight-point scale, which then serves as the dependent variable for a regression analysis. The analysis models such restrictions as products of ideological and partisan, racial, and criminal-justice-based predictors.

Results

Neither Democratic Party influence nor crime levels appear to influence significantly state collateral-sanctions levels; more liberal citizen ideology predicts slightly more lenient policies, while harsher restrictions accompany rising state incarceration rates. Racial variables press in opposite directions: within the model, scores rise as a state's black population increases, but fall as the percentage of African Americans in the state legislature rises.

Conclusion

Formally creatures of civil rather than criminal law, these “collateral” restrictions appear to possess important affinities with other punitive policies in the United States, yet also resist unambiguous linkage to ideological, criminal-justice, and racial predictors.