Collateral consequences of punishment: A critical review and path forward

David S. Kirk, Sara Wakefield

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


The unprecedented growth of the penal system in the United States has motivated an expansive volume of research on the collateral consequences of punishment. In this review, we take stock of what is known about these collateral consequences, particularly in the domains of health, employment, housing, debt, civic involvement, families, and communities. Yet the full reckoning of the formal and informal consequences of mass incarceration and the tough-on-crime era is hindered by a set of thorny challenges that are both methodological and theoretical in nature. We examine these enduring challenges, which include (a) the importance of minimizing selection bias, (b) consideration of treatment heterogeneity, and (c) identification of causal mechanisms underlying collateral consequences. We conclude the review with a focused discussion on promising directions for future research, including insights into data infrastructure, opportunities for policy tests, and suggestions for expanding the field of inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-194
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Criminology
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


  • Conviction
  • Crime
  • Crimmigration
  • Incarceration
  • Punishment


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