What is a violent crime?
While the Supreme Court has struggled to define when conduct is “violent,” the real-world consequences of this definitional question are critically important: the law often treats violent and nonviolent crime very differently, reported Salon.
Many laws govern the conduct of those with criminal records, restricting housing, employment, voting and a range of benefits. These laws often depend upon the nature of the underlying offense – a violent felony might preclude someone from finding work in a given industry; a nonviolent conviction might not.
Additionally, a conviction for a violent (as opposed to a nonviolent) crime might trigger a much longer sentence if an individual commits another crime – even if the second crime is nonviolent or less serious.
Because of these dramatic consequences that accompany a violent crime conviction recent scholarship has emphasized that focusing solely on “nonviolent offenders” won’t be enough to reduce prison populations drastically.
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