In a notable project and much-needed initiative, the Department of Justice and the American Bar Association have joined forces to create a comprehensive yet user-friendly database of collateral consequences of criminal convictions for the domestic United States. Called the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction, the project, according to its creators:
[W]ill make it possible for criminal and civil lawyers to determine which collateral consequences are triggered by particular categories of offenses, for affected individuals to understand the limits of their rights and opportunities, and for lawmakers and policy advocates to understand the full measure of a jurisdiction’s sanctions and disqualifications.
It is no surprise that in describing the genesis of the project, the ABA and DOJ made express mention of Padilla and its proposition “that when a person considering a guilty plea is unaware of severe consequences that will inexorably follow, this raises questions of fairness and implicates the constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel.”
For all its benefits, the project is still a work in progress and those who access its website might well encounter a dearth of information for certain states — Georgia being one of them. Going forward, and knowing that the list of collateral consequences is ever growing, I would like the project’s creators and staff to consider adding a blog to the website which would be updated every time a new collateral consequence is added to the project’s database.