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Vol 23 No 3 March/April 2018

Book of the Month

Cover of Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

Scamell and Gasztowicz on Land Covenants

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The Eternal Criminal Record

ISBN13: 9780674368262
Published: February 2015
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Country of Publication: USA
Format: Hardback
Price: £31.95

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For over sixty million Americans, possessing a criminal record overshadows everything else about their public identity. A rap sheet, or even a court appearance or background report that reveals a run-in with the law, can have fateful consequences for a person s interactions with just about everyone else.

The Eternal Criminal Record makes transparent an all-pervading system of police databases and identity-screening that has become a routine feature of American life. The United States is unique in making criminal information easy to obtain by employers, landlords, neighbors, even cyberstalkers. Its nationally integrated rap-sheet system is second to none as an effective law enforcement tool, but it has also facilitated the transfer of ever-more sensitive information into the public domain. While there are good reasons for a person s criminal past to be public knowledge, records of arrests that fail to result in convictions are of questionable benefit. Simply by placing someone under arrest, a police officer has the power to tag a person with a legal history that effectively incriminates him or her for life. In James Jacobs s view, law-abiding citizens have a right to know when individuals in their community or workplace represent a potential threat. But convicted persons have rights, too.

Jacobs closely examines the problems created by erroneous recordkeeping, critiques the way the records of individuals who go years without a new conviction are expunged, and proposes strategies for eliminating discrimination based on criminal history, such as certifying the records of those who have demonstrated their rehabilitation.

Other Jurisdictions , USA
1. Introduction

I. The Production and Dissemination of Criminal Records
2. Intelligence and Investigative Databases
3. Linking Bodies to Criminal Histories
4. Court Records
5. Privatizing Criminal Records

II. Key Policy Issues
6. Whether to Create a Criminal Record
7. Sealing, Purging, and Amending Conviction Records
8. Erroneous Records Problems

III. U.S. Criminal Record Exceptionalism
9. Transparency of Criminal Convictions
10. Public Access to Arrestee Information
11. Publicly Accessible Criminal Records and Punishment Theory
IV. Direct and Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Record
12. Criminal Justice Consequences of a Criminal Record
13. Second-Class Citizens by Law
14. Employment Discrimination Based on a Criminal Record
15. Conclusion

Appendix: Supreme Court Cases Dealing with Criminal Records