When a person is convicted of a criminal charge in Illinois, they have to face the penalty handed down by the court. However, it is the related results of a conviction that will have the longest lasting effects. Often referred to as collateral consequences, related results of a criminal conviction affect many other aspects of a person’s life. The assumption that a person has paid his or her debt to society by completing the court’s sentencing requirements is simply not true.
According to National Public Radio, there are laws at every level that impose restrictions on convicted criminals that can affect housing, assistance, employment and volunteering. For example, a person who has been convicted of a felony may not be eligible to volunteer at his or her child’s school or to live in a public housing unit. Drug convictions can prevent a person from being eligible for federal funds to go to college. Many professional licenses are not awarded to a person with a criminal conviction. The major issue is that many of these restrictions are lifelong with no opportunity to get them removed.
The National Institute of Justice notes that even those who have never served time in jail or prison but who have a conviction are affected by collateral consequences. It is the simple matter of being convicted without any consideration of the opinion of the court or the facts of the case that imposes the restrictions on people. It is the opinion of many in the legal field that such long-term effects should not be in place because they restrict a person from trying to become a productive member of society.