TOOLKITS TO COMBAT LEGAL
People with criminal records face a daunting array of counterproductive, debilitating legal barriers that make it much more difficult for them to succeed in almost every important aspect of life. The Legal Action Center’s groundbreaking report, After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry (http://lac.org/roadblocks-to-reentry/), documents and grades each state on the legal obstacles that people with criminal records face as they seek to become fully productive members of society. The Report also makes a series of recommendations for legislative and policy change that point the way for future advocacy that can make a real difference in facilitating reentry for this population.
In order to help advocates eliminate these unfair roadblocks, the Legal Action Center has developed advocacy kits on 12 critically important policy, funding and legal issues that can be used to remove nearly all of the most harmful roadblocks to re-entry. Each advocacy kit contains some or all of the following:
All parts of each advocacy kit can be downloaded for printing, e-mailing or other dissemination. The Action Alerts, Sample Letters, and Sample Editorials can be shaped to address the specific reforms an advocate is seeking to achieve.
Simply click on the following to find the advocacy kit for the roadblocks you want to eliminate:
1. Prohibit Inquiries About Arrests That Never Led to Conviction. This kit helps those advocating for legislation to prohibit any inquiries about, consideration, and use of information about arrests that did not lead to conviction by employers, housing authorities and other non-law enforcement agencies.
2. Standards for Hiring People with Criminal Records. This kit helps those advocating for legislation that prohibits across-the-board employment bans based on conviction records and requires employers (as well as agencies that conduct criminal history background checks) to assess job applicants individually on their merits.
3. Certificates of Rehabilitation. This kit helps those advocating for legislation to create certificates that lift automatic bars to employment, occupational licenses and public housing.
4. Sealing/Expunging Arrest and Conviction Records. This kit helps those advocating for legislation that automatically seals arrests that never led to convictions and seals old and minor convictions after a reasonable period of time.
5. Drivers’ Licenses. This kit helps those advocating for legislation that limits suspension or revocation of licenses to only those drug or alcohol offenses that are related to an individual’s ability to drive safely, and provides for restricted licenses for employment, education, and receipt of medical care for those whose licenses were revoked or suspended because of drug convictions.
6. Public Housing. This kit helps those advocating with local housing authorities to expand housing opportunities for individuals with criminal convictions while still protecting public safety by prohibiting consideration of arrests that never led to conviction and assessing all applicants individually on their merits.
7. Opting Out of Federal Ban on Food Stamps and TANF. This kit helps those advocating for legislation to opt out of or modify the lifetime ban on food stamps and public assistance for people convicted of drug felonies.
8. Adoption and Foster Care. This kit helps those advocating for legislation that protects the best interest of children by requiring individualized determinations about the suitability of applicants with a criminal records to be an adoptive or foster parent.
9. Restoring Medicaid Upon Release From Prison. This kit helps those advocating to ensure that states meet the federal requirement that Medicaid be automatically restored to individuals upon their release from confinement.
10. Valid State Identification Cards. This kit provides information on various ways to facilitate the provision of state ID cards to released prisoners to help them obtain employment, housing and benefits.
11. Funding Streams. This kit provides information on the variety of funding streams that help individuals with criminal records make a successful transition into employment and stability.
12. Enforce Anti-Discrimination Laws. This kit provides information on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and relevant state laws that prohibit employment and other forms of discrimination against people with criminal records.
13. How to Use Byrne Justice Assistance Grants. This kit helps providers obtain federal Byrne JAG funds to support alternatives to incarceration (ATI), reentry, and substance use treatment and prevention services.
We hope you find these materials helpful to your work. Additional information is available on the Legal Action Center’s web site, http://www.lac.org.
We are grateful to the After Prison Initiative of the Open Society Institute for making it possible for the Legal Action Center to develop these toolkits.