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2022 Second Chance & Opportunities Bills

Date: 
04/04/2022
Author: 
Pauline Quirion
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A CRIMINAL RECORD SHOULD NOT BE A LIFE SENTENCE TO POVERTY

URGENT: CALL-IN DAYS ON APRIL 5 TO APRIL 7, 2022 

 

Too many of our brothers and sisters are shut out of the economy and live in poverty after incarceration or criminal court involvement. CORI laws need to be improved to make the record sealing process easier and to also give people access to jobs, housing, and opportunities during the 3 to 7 year waiting periods to seal a record, and in instances where they can’t seal out-of-state, federal court, or other criminal records. 

Help Us to Pass Second Chance and Opportunities Bills! 

WHEN: Tuesday through Thursday, April 5 to April 7 from 9 am to 5 pm 

WHAT: Pick a day(s) to call to urge Judiciary Committee members to favorably report out these 2 bills:  

  • S1037/ H1763 to make criminal record sealing automatic after the applicable waiting periods because the current sealing process is inefficient, has long backlogs, is hard to understand, underutilized, and not easily accessible.  

 

  • H1908/S932 to permit a judge to grant certificates of rehabilitation that would remove automatic disqualifications for jobs, housing, and other opportunities imposed by state law due to a conviction or juvenile adjudication, which is very important especially to people who have to wait 3 to 7 years to seal their records, or have records that can never be sealed, including but not limited to records from federal court or another state that can’t be sealed. 

  

 WHO TO CALL: 

  • House Judiciary Chair Michael Day: 617-722-2396 
  • Rep. Susannah Whipps:  617-722-2090
  • Rep. Jay Livingston: 617-722-2575
  • Rep. Christopher Hendricks: 617-722-2305
  • Rep. Jon Santiago: 617-722-2450
  • Senator Cynthia Creem: 617-722-1639
  • Senator Eric Lesser: 617-722-1291
  • Rep. Brandy Fluker Oakley: 617-722-2800 ext. 7310 
  • Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz: 617-722-1673

SAMPLE SCRIPT: 

Hello, my name is ......  and I'm calling to ask you to report out two bills favorably: Senate 1037/ House 1763  AND  H1908/S932 that give people with CORI’s a second chance.  [If you get voicemail instead of a person, leave your name, call back number, and message asking them to favorably report out the 2 bills, and include the bill numbers in the message].   

THE FIRST BILL is S1037/ H1763 which would make criminal record sealing automatic after the applicable waiting period to seal a record has passed. 

  • The current administrative sealing process is failing people because it is too slow, too cumbersome, and not easily understood.  
  • People wait years to be eligible to seal their records, but then they also face long backlogs of about 4 months.  
  • Sealing is both slow and inefficient because it is done manually after each petition is mailed in and processed one-by-one by the Commissioner of Probation’s office.  
  • “Clean slate” automated sealing results in sealing of millions of records and is a source of bipartisan pride in other states that have automated the record sealing process. PA, Utah, Michigan, CT and Delaware have passed “Clean Slate” sealing laws and the results are very positive.  
  • Studies show record sealing increases access to jobs and increases wages; and people with jibs have lower recidivism (return to jail or prison),   
  • Sealing is underutilized in MA and many people often do not or cannot seal cases on their own. By the time many people are able to get legal help or learn they are eligible for sealing, they often already lost the opportunity for a job, housing, etc.   

 

THE SECOND BILL IS H1908/S932 which would permit courts to grant certificates of rehabilitation to remove disqualifications for jobs, housing, and other opportunities imposed by MA state law due to a conviction or juvenile court adjudication. 

  

  • Employers often quickly disqualify applicants for jobs because of their convictions and the same goes for housing, occupational licenses and other opportunities. 
  • A criminal record should NOT be a lifetime sentence to poverty and blocked opportunities. 
  • However, countless people cannot get jobs or housing despite completing training programs, getting a degree or working hard to stay on track, and they plunge into poverty because it will be years before they can seal their records or they have out-of-state or federal court cases that can never be sealed.  
  • The current CORI law sets people up to fail as they wait years to seal their records or get denied jobs even where their cases ended favorably in a dismissal after a CWOF.  
  • Some people with convictions also continue be rejected even after sealing their records because some employers or other requestors are given special access to sealed records.   
  • Rehabilitation certificates will increase access to jobs and housing by removing statutory disqualifications as determined by a court, which is needed in the competitive job market after COVID, and to permit a person to be eligible for housing, or to stay with family members who live in public housing despite a conviction.  
  • Massachusetts has high recidivism rates, but people with jobs have lower recidivism.    AFTER YOU MAKE THE CALLS:  If you can, email pquirion@gbls.org  to let us know if legislators support the bills and anything else you think is important to pass on

 

 

 

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