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Legal barriers or "collateral consequences" arising from criminal convictions came to the forefront of the legal and policy discourse at the dawn of the twenty-first century, as the population of people with criminal convictions skyrocketed. These barriers act as restrictions to post-incarceration reentry into society, including the resumption of employment, occupational licensing, access to housing and public benefits, driving privileges, educational loans, immigration, voting rights, and other means of economic survival and civic re-engagement.

What is barely examined are the ways in which these barriers affect family law, specifically in the area of child support and the debt accrued by incarcerated parents. This article examines the recent convergence of incarceration, collateral sanctions, and child support debt, and argues that the current system of aggressive support enforcement against incarcerated parents serves as a de facto civil sanction in many jurisdictions, creating yet another collateral consequence that serves as a prominent barrier to successful reentry.

Publication Citation

13 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y 313 (2006).

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Family Law Commons