Collateral Damage: America's Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime

A Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status After Arrest or Conviction

Between 2012 and 2014, NACDL’s Task Force on Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction embarked on a study of relief mechanisms available to those with a conviction on their record on the local, state and federal level. At an event at the Open Society Foundations in Washington, DC, NACDL released a major new report that comprehensively explored the stigma and policies relegating tens of millions of people in America to second-class status because of an arrest or conviction. [Released May 2014]


In addition, the report lays out ten recommendations to ensure that the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are within reach of all, regardless of past mistakes.

We hope you take time to read the report and reflect on what you as an individual can do to ensure that second chances are allotted for not only the wealthy and well positioned, but all of us.

NACDL Collateral Consequences Projects

The consequences of conviction – specific legal barriers, generalized discrimination, and social stigma – have become more numerous and severe, more public, and more permanent. The legal mechanisms relied on in the past to restore rights and status – pardons, expungements, certificates of good conduct -- have atrophied or become ineffective, with the result that a significant percentage of the American public is permanently consigned to second class citizenship. 

NACDL is proud to have several projects aimed at examining the collateral consequences of these convictions. The goal is to provide policy recommendations and laud existing best practices that jurisdictions can engage in to effectively decrease the economic, political, and social stigmas associated with a criminal conviction. Please visit our collateral consequences page.