Since the early 1990s, an increasing number of laws and policies have been enacted that restrict persons with a felony conviction (particularly convictions for drug offenses) from accessing many social benefits and economic opportunities. These include restrictions on employment, receipt of welfare benefits, access to public housing, and eligibility for student loans for higher education. These prohibitions are imposed by legislative bodies and are applied without any judicial discretion regarding type of offense or individual circumstances. Many collateral penalties have no relation to the traditional goals of punishment, but severely affect offenders' life prospects through employment and other restrictions.
The Sentencing Project publishes analyses of the impact of these policies and is engaged with other advocates in calling policymaker attention to the need for reform.