Second Chance Bulletin - May 2012

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Dear Friends,

We are excited to send this fifth edition of the NC Second Chance Alliance Bulletin, an e-newsletter providing updates of our growing movement to break down the barriers facing the thousands of North Carolinians who have criminal records. Below you will find information on

  • newly released EEOC guidance on the proper use of criminal records in hiring decisions,
  • upcoming Second Chance Alliance community listening sessions
  • the Second Chance Alliance’s legislative advocacy of local reentry councils and expanded expunction opportunities,
  • NC Legal Aid’s Summer Series of Reentry Workshops
  • encouraging survey results of opinions on reentry resources
  •  upcoming reentry events.

As always, we are looking for updates from you—what’s happening in your communities and with your organizations to break down barriers facing those with criminal records? Pass along updates to us by emailing danielb@ncjustice.org and we’ll include them in future newsletters. Also, please visit our newly updated website: Second Chance Alliance Website.

Help us grow the list of friends that receives the NC Second Chance Alliance Bulletin. You can share it with a friend by entering their contact information here: newsletter sign up or just forward this email and ask your partners to sign up to receive further updates.

 

EEOC Releases Guidance on Proper Use of Background Checks in Hiring Decisions

The following is an article published by the National Employment Law Project.

(May 3, 2012) Last week saw a major development in the employment rights of people with criminal records. In a bipartisan 4-to-1 vote, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its 25-year-old guidance on how employers may use arrest and conviction records in their employment decisions.

It’s a move allies have long advocated for and will be aggressively promoting. We applaud the EEOC’s action and believe the new guidance will help reduce employment barriers and restore hope and opportunity for millions of Americans who struggle to find work because of a blemish in their record.  

A New York Times editorial described the new guidance as “must reading for all employers,” and for good reason. It comes at a time when more employers are running background checks, and more Americans have arrests or convictions for minor offenses, than ever before.

An estimated 65-million Americans—roughly one in four U.S. adults—have a criminal record that can show up on a routine background check. As NELP documented in a recent report, many employers continue to impose blanket bans on hiring anyone with a criminal record, even though such bans are illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because of their disparate impact on communities of color.

Coverage of the EEOC action, often citing NELP’s work, has been extensive, including reports in The New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Associated Press, Reuters, McClatchy, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, msnbc.com, and many others. The day after the guidance came out, NELP hosted a telephonic press briefing with the NAACP, the Fortune Society, and Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, featuring an inspiring worker and employer supporting the EEOC’s action; an audio recording of the press call is available here.

Later this month, NELP will be hosting a webinar together with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and the National Reentry Resource Center, featuring EEOC staff and the vice president for human resources of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, a leader in fair hiring practices. The webinar will help get the word out to workers, employers, and other key constituents about the new guidance and kick off the critical next phase of education and enforcement. Please stay tuned!
RESOURCE LINKS:

- EEOC Enforcement Guidance 
- EEOC's Q&A sheet
- NELP/CLS fact sheet
- NELP press release
- NELP press briefing audio
- NELP’s Second Chance Labor Project

 

Upcoming Second Chance Alliance Community Listening Sessions

In order to better advocate on behalf of the broad and diverse community of individuals with criminal records, members of the Second Chance Alliance Steering Committee will be partnering with direct-services providers to hold community listening sessions around the state. These listening sessions are intended to facilitate an open dialogue of the needs of directly-impacted individuals that should be addressed and prioritized in the Second Chance Alliance’s 2013 Legislative Agenda. If you are a service provider or local community leader able and willing to host a listening session between September and December 2012 please contact Daniel Bowes at danielb@ncjustice.org.

 

Legislative Updates:

The Legislative Research Commission Committee on Criminal Record Expunctions met on April 18, 2012, to discuss a proposed expunction bill. The proposed bill would allow an individual convicted of a single nonviolent felony (or multiple nonviolent felonies if the convictions occurred in the same session of court) to have that conviction expunged 15 years after his or her criminal sentence is completed. If the individual is eligible for the expunction, the expunction would be automatic.  At the hearing, Daniel Bowes, on behalf of the Second Chance Alliance, thanked the committee for its willingness to expand opportunities for expunction in North Carolina. Daniel pointed out that currently there are extremely limited opportunities for expunctions in general and absolutely no opportunities for expunction of felony convictions if the crimes were committed after the age of 18/21. Daniel informed members of the committee that while this bill would make a positive difference in the lives of those who are eligible for the relief once they eventually become eligible, the 15-year waiting period is substantially too long. Daniel cited research demonstrating that 7 years is a far more appropriate waiting period. The proposed bill, with the 15-year waiting period, was approved by the committee and will be passed along to an as-yet-underdetermined committee for further review. The Second Chance Alliance will continue to monitor the bill and advocate for a shorter waiting period.

 

The Second Chance Alliance is supporting Senate Bill 221 which designates the Department of Public Safety Office of Research and Planning as the single state agency responsible for the coordination and implementation of recommendations propagated by the StreetSafe Task Force, the Justice Reinvestment Initiative of the Council of State Governments, and the Joint Select Committee on Ex-Offender Reintegration Into Society. As importantly, the bill requires the Office of Research and Planning to establish “a minimum of 10 local reentry councils.” Senate Bill 221’s companion bill, HB 233, passed the House this past session.  Members of the Second Chance Alliance have been working with DPS in recent months to develop a shared vision of an effective local reentry council system. The Second Chance Alliance believes local reentry councils best provide for the seamless delivery of reentry resources, as both a tool of coordinating already available resources and a means of identifying and responding to gaps in services.

 

 

LEGAL AID WORKSHOPS: Petitioning for Expunctions and Certificates of Relief

Legal Aid of North Carolina is dedicated to informing individuals with criminal records of potential tools of relief. Over the coming months, Legal Aid will be hosting a series of Know-Your-Rights workshops in various communities regarding expunctions and certificates of relief. The first workshop in this series is taking place this Friday, May 11, 2012 in four legal aid offices across the state. More information is provided below.

Legal Aid Know-Your-Rights Workshop Series

This free legal workshop will be broadcast live via videoconferencing in multiple locations throughout the State. A brief question and answer segment will be conducted at the end of the workshop.

The following offices are participating in Friday’s videoconference:

  • Pittsboro Office

  • Fayetteville Office

  • Durham Office

  • Wilmington Office

Time:      Noon to 1:00 pm

Date/Topics: May 11, 2012 (this Friday)

A. Do-It-Yourself Certificate of Relief: During this segment of the workshop an attorney will discuss North Carolina General Statute §§ 15A-173.1 through 15A-173.6, the law that became effective December 1, 2011, which allows individuals with certain criminal convictions to apply to the Court for a certificate of relief from collateral consequences, detail how the legal process works---which will vary by judicial district---and provide sample pleadings for an attendee to complete on his/her own and file with the Court.

B. Brief Overview of Expungements: This know-your-rights segment of the workshop will educate attendees about the legal mechanism of sealing a North Carolina arrest/conviction record by briefly touching upon the relevant laws, including last year's legislative changes.

Attendance at these workshops is open to the public. If you wish to apply for legal services after the workshop you must be screened for Legal Aid eligibility by calling the telephone number listed below.

 

FUTURE WORKSHOPS: Again, this is only the first of several workshops that will be occurring around the state over the course of the summer. We will inform you of other opportunities to attend. In the meantime, we have posted the presentation to the Second Chance Alliance’s website. Please visit Guidance on Petitioning for a Certificate of Relief for an overview of eligibility and application procedures for the certificates (the document is also posted under the Reentry Resources tab of our website). Information provided in this document is not legal advice, but general information regarding eligibility and procedures.

 

UPCOMING EVENT: Reducing Recidivism While Maintaining Public Order Panel

The Second Chance Alliance’s Bill Rowe and Dennis Gaddy will be participating in the Reentry Panel at the the Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy Summit. This event is open to the public and we encourage Second Chance Alliance members to attend.

WHEN: June 12th, 2012

WHAT TIME IS THE EVENT: Registration starts at 8 am, and the event begins at 9 am and will go through Noon. A lunch will be served to registered guests after the summit.

WHERE: North Carolina Legislative Auditorium, 16 Jones Street, Raleigh, NC

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Law Enforcement, Legislators, Legislative Support Staff, Public Health Officials, Lobbyists, Harm Reductionists, Drug Policy Reformers, Policy Reformers, People Who Work with Incarcerated Populations and the Substance Abuse Community, Individuals directly-impacted by the collateral consequences of criminal records

WHAT WILL BE COVERED: Law Enforcement Needlestick Reduction, Law Enforcement Safety around Drug Overdoses, Reducing Recidivism While Maintaining Public Order and Drug Policy Reform

WHO WILL BE PRESENTING: Law Enforcement Safety Experts, Law Enforcement, Drug Policy Experts and Republican & Democratic Legislators, and Conservative, Liberal & Moderate Policy Institutes

EVENT CONTACT: Robert Childs, MPH (336) 543-8050, robert.bb.childs@gmail.com

SIGN-UP PAGE: http://tinyurl.com/NCdrugpolicy

 

 

Second Chance Alliance Well-represented at Inaugural North Carolina Law and Policy Symposium

Daryl Atkinson of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Bill Rowe and Daniel Bowes of the NC Justice Center spoke as members of the Second Chance Alliance at the inaugural North Carolina Law and Policy Symposium, “Realizing Criminal Justice Reform Together.” The event, held at Duke University, centered on how both law and policy shape criminal justice reform and examined promising legislative advocacy methods, pre-conviction reforms, reentry, the pardons system and resolving wrongful convictions. Daryl Atkinson spoke as part of a panel offering reforms to the reentry system necessary to address barriers to reentry. Bill Rowe and Daniel Bowes, with help from the Community Success Initiative’s Dennis Gaddy, led a workshop on legislative advocacy using the Second Chance Alliance’s advocacy of certificates of relief as an instructive model. Also speaking at the event and pictured above was Rev. Barber of the NAACP. Rev. Barber delivered the keynote address, “Reclaiming a Noble Idea: Equality under the Law.” Thank you to the many Second Chance Alliance members who were in the audience and provided both great questions and personal reflections.

Encouraging Results of Charlotte-Mecklenburg 2012 Criminal Justice System Survey

Results of a recent survey of perspectives on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Criminal Justice System provide encouragement to the Second Chance Alliance’s efforts. The survey of 500 adults living in Mecklenburg County was conducted by MarketWise, Inc. by phone in January 2012. The complete results can be accessed here. Among the many questions, the responses to two are very pertinent to our work:

  • Which of the following two statements best describes your own views about efforts to rehabilitate offenders?
    • Once someone turns to crime, very little can be done to turn them into productive law-abiding citizens- 15%
    • Given the right conditions, many offenders can turn their lives around and become law-abiding citizens- 80%
    • Don’t know- 5%
  • On which of the following two options would you most want your county tax dollars spent?
    • Incarceration or putting offenders in jail- 25%
    • Funding of rehabilitation programs that address offenders’ underlying criminal behavior- 68%
    • Both equally (response not read)- 7%
    • Don’t know- 1%

 

Remember, share this newsletter with your friends and let us know about any events, best-practices, or highlights from your work by contacting us at danielb@ncjustice.org.

 

Many thanks,

Your NC Second Chance Alliance coordinating team

 

 

 

 

 

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