October 22, 2013
MEET THE STAFF: Daniel Bowes, Attorney, Second Chance Initiative
Daniel Bowes never made a decision to pursue poverty law and the issue of collateral consequences of criminal convictions. As he puts it, “It was always what I wanted to do.”
A native of Alamance County, Daniel knows personally about the impact and importance of the NC Justice Center's work. “I grew up without insurance, lived in a trailer, and attended a Leandro school,” he says. “I grew up with a parent who had been incarcerated when I was a young kid. This was very personal to me.”
While attending the New York University School of Law, Daniel participated in a clinic on criminal reentry issues and learned about the employment barriers faced by many formerly incarcerated people as well as the tools of relief that could aid their reintegration into the workforce and their community. Two and a half years after he pitched the idea of a Collateral Consequences Project to the Justice Center’s Bill Rowe, Daniel says there’s a lot to be excited about. “This is a unique time in North Carolina,” Daniel says. “There’s some momentum and we’re finally seeing some of our work bear fruit.”
The project has helped expand legal remedies and protections available to persons with criminal records, including a law enacted in December 2012 that allows for expunction of first-time nonviolent misdemeanors and low-level felonies 15 years after the conviction. Daniel was also responsible for highlighting the use of criminal records by licensing boards. One-third of the jobs in North Carolina require licensure, and many companies were automatically denying employment to individuals due to their criminal record. Earlier this year the NC General Assembly passed a law prohibiting licensing boards from automatically disqualifying individuals based on their criminal records, unless required to do so by statute.
“We’re not where we want to be but these laws will provide relief to a lot of people,” Daniel said.
Daniel, who splits his time between the NC Justice Center and Legal Aid of NC, helped establish local reentry councils in Buncombe, Mecklenburg and Pitt Counties, as well as the tri-counties of Wilson/Nash/Edgecombe and Scotland/Hoke/Robeson, and run expungement clinics in rural NC communities. He also coordinates the Second Chance Alliance, which puts a face on the issue of reentry.
Daniel loves the variety his work at the Justice Center offers: lobbying work at the General Assembly, grassroots organizing, and direct client work. He particularly treasures a Certificate of Appreciation that sits on the wall of his office from the Polk Correctional Institute, where he spoke to inmates who were within six months of being released. They were all under 22 years old, about the same age Daniel’s father had been.
You can help Daniel continue his work on reentry with the Second Chance Alliance by making a donation to the North Carolina Justice Center. Click here to make a contribution today.
TAKE ACTION: Tell lawmakers you’re sick of picking up tab for corporate tax dodging
The government shutdown is over, but as Congress turns to writing a long-term budget by December 13, the fight is just beginning. During these negotiations, some in Congress will seek to enact more spending cuts to key investments in education, healthcare, food assistance, or even Social Security—cuts that will only hurt our economy and increase poverty and hardship for too many Americans.
They can’t be allowed to succeed—now is the time to protect key investments, and address our federal budget challenges through new revenues, not through more spending cuts that increase poverty.
One great source of new revenues involves closing the loopholes, deductions, and credits that allow so many large corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Too many multinational corporations take advantage of these tax breaks to escape significant portions of federal tax liability.
Unless large corporations are asked to contribute more in new tax revenues, the rest of us will have to pick up the tab through more spending cuts to the initiatives so important to working and middle class families. Take Action! Call on your North Carolina US Senators and Representatives to support new revenues by ending corporate tax dodging.
CHILD CARE SUBSIDIES: Many families wait even after government reopens
North Carolina’s subsidized child care program helps foster the healthy development of children and ensures that low-income working parents have the supports they need to maintain and pursue employment and education. However, even after the impacts of the federal shutdown are resolved, more than 30,000 eligible children and their families are left waiting for child care subsidies due lack of funding and the state’s inability to keep up with demand.
Child care is the largest monthly cost for many North Carolina families, surpassing that of food, health care, and even housing. Many parents are forced to choose between leaving their children in subpar care arrangements and using much-needed income for high-quality care.
The state's subsidized child care program helps reduce these high costs, but funding for early childhood programs have been under threat. As of July 2013, nearly 35,000 eligible children were on the waiting list for subsidized, quality child care. For the thousands of families on the waiting list and those impacted by the loss of federal funding, accessing child care subsidies for their children could mean the difference between keeping their home or putting food on the table.
It's time for North Carolina to renew its investment in child care subsidies and early childhood programs. Our leaders must recognize that investing in early child care and education have lasting positive effects, including increasing high school graduation rates and reducing costs in criminal justice.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT MEETING: Join us on October 30 in Reidsville
As the Affordable Care Act is being implemented in our state, North Carolina lawmakers have blocked the Medicaid program from being expanded. There are 500,000 people who would have gotten Medicaid expansion who won’t get it in 2014 thanks to this decision.
Join us in Reidsville for an educational forum and community conversation on the ACA, health benefits exchange, and the Medicaid expansion. The NC Justice Center's Health Access Coalition will lead a discussion on the benefits of the ACA, how Medicaid expansion would help the community, the new health benefits exchanges (online marketplace for purchasing insurance), and eligibility for tax credits for individuals and small businesses.
At a recent ACA informational meeting in Tarboro, the Health Access Coalition's Adam Searing and Adam Linker spoke to a crowd about why NC wasn’t expanding Medicaid to 500,000 low income North Carolinians. Searing wrote of the meeting: "One thing that struck me was how shocked people were when we explained that because of the action of NC legislators and Governor McCrory, some people in the room wouldn’t be getting health coverage under the Affordable Care Act because they were too poor. They couldn’t believe that state leaders would do that to communities that need help with affordable health coverage."
The Health Access Coalition has seen that same reaction Eastern North Carolina. Join them on October 30 to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and spreading the word across the state, hopefully all the way to our legislators in Raleigh.
Click here for a flyer. The event will be held at the New Reidsville Housing Authority on Wednesday, October 30, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. To reserve your spot call (336) 891-0801 or email ACA_seminar@newrha.org.