If a court convicts you of a felony, it will hand down a punishment for you to serve. This can mean jail time, fines, community service or probation. But unless you get a life sentence, once you serve your time, you have paid back your debt to society.
Unfortunately, for most people convicted of felony, punishments continue well after they serve their time. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) recently released a report on the collateral consequences of being a felon. The report found that punishments don’t stop after serving time.
Collateral consequences cause lifetime punishments
According to the report, state and federal prisons release around 620,000 people every year. When these people leave, they struggle to find housing and jobs. They can’t sign up for welfare benefits to help pay for food or housing. Even though they fulfilled the punishment from the court, barriers to basic needs continue to punish them.
This increases the likelihood of people with a felony to turn back to crime to live. Without access to a paycheck or government aid, some people with felonies may feel like they have no other options.
The punishment doesn’t fit the crime
Among the concerns that the USCCR has with collateral consequences is that they often don’t relate to the conviction. For example, if someone gets a felony DUI and serves a full sentence, then that person should be able to find gainful employment after serving time or have access to public aid. Denying that person these basic rights does not directly punish the DUI. Instead, it creates a negative impact that can turn that person into a repeat offender.
A felony conviction can follow you
Felony convictions can change your life forever. Not only will you have to face the punishment of the court, you will also have lifelong consequences that follow you. If you face felony charges, consult with an attorney to see if you can reduce your charges.