The American Bar Association defines “collateral sanctions” as: “a legal penalty, disability or disadvantage, however denominated, that is imposed on a person automatically upon that person’s conviction for a felony, misdemeanor or other offense, even if it is not included in the sentence.”

850+.This number marks the estimated laws that impact ones ability to reintegrate into society in state of Ohio. This number marks the number of collateral sanctions the state of Ohio has written. Collateral sanctions are consequences in addition to a sentence someone receives, such as an inability for someone charge with sexual imposition to work at a day care.

Collateral sanctions are not inherently negative, but when collateral sanctions become excessive and barriers to people transitioning home, our problems begins. There are people with 20+ year convictions who are unable to engage in certain career fields, such as being a hair stylist due collateral sanctions.

Reform cannot take place unless we examine and revise those implicit and explicit barriers that are already in existence. In addition to creating new laws that assist in “rehabilitating”, we must rid or revise those laws that slow down or impede the rehabilitative process.

Remember, Returning Citizens have a place amoung us. Their thoughts, talents/skills, and efforts deserve a seat next to ours. There are many persons who have served time in prison/jail and/or have recieved other consequences, we should not seek to punish them repetitively. Unfortunately, our legal system has created a cycle of incarceration through policies that influence their ability to have limited access to housing, employment, insurance, and/or education.

Resources: if you are a person who has been involvement with the criminal justice system, locate below is a database for Ohio’s collateral sanctions. It is important to know any limitations/restrictions attached to any charges you may have.


Call to action: write to your legislators to encourage them to support the criminal justice reform needed in Ohio and Cuyahoga county.

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