Returning Citizens

One Returning Citizen’s experience

The FACE, Freedom Advocates Celebrating Ex-Offenders, program helps build each ex-offender into a productive member of society. The program provides life skills, spiritual support, case management, employment connections, and more. FACE has been running since 2002 and has been providing transitional housing since 2011.

“It takes rehabilitation and a strong mindset to be able to come back into society.”

Hargrove said he and other ex-offenders could strengthen each other by combining what they learned on the inside of the institution with what he has learned on the outside. Hargrove puts tools in place for the people in his program, but it is up to them to use them properly.

Read about Earl Nelson’s experience as a returning citizen.

Returning Citizens eligible for Medicaid in Maryland

Those leaving the corrections system are known to have higher rates of infectious and chronic diseases but often face hurdles securing Medicaid coverage for a number of reasons, including because some lack proper identification. Now, however, those leaving prison and jail in Maryland will be presumed eligible to sign up for Medicaid, the government-run health program for the poor, as part of a five-year agreement with federal authorities announced. Read the full article in the Baltimore Sun

GBC wants more hiring, workforce training for ex-offenders

The Greater Baltimore Committee released a report recommending businesses and government be more open to hiring ex-offenders and provide more resources for those exiting jail.

Returning citizens can face employment barriers including an inability to pass a background check, housing discrimination, lack of transportation access, stereotypes and employer reluctance, the report says. Such barriers leave ex-offenders with few options for re-entry and even lead some to return to criminal activity. See the Sun news article about this release.

Collateral Consequences

Collateral consequences of criminal conviction are the additional civil state penalties, mandated by statute, that attach to criminal convictions. They are not part of the direct consequences of criminal conviction, such as incarceration, fines, or probation. They are the further civil actions by the state that are triggered as a consequence of the conviction. They include loss or restriction of a professional license, ineligibility for public funds including welfare benefits and student loans, loss of voting rights, ineligibility for jury duty, and deportation for immigrants, including, in the case of the United States, those who, while not U.S. citizens, hold permanent resident status. See more at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collateral_consequences_of_criminal_conviction

A Home After Prison – NYTimes (6/21/16) – Many people who return from prison often live illegally with their families or friends in public housing, for lack of other options, and put those on the lease at risk of eviction. It’s much better for public safety, as well as for them and their families, if we help people live out of the shadows. We must take a hard look at how we treat people who have repaid their debt to society. Many of them return to communities that have been devastated by generations of tough-on-crime policies. We should use public housing policy to help people with convictions succeed, not continue their punishment.

The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction—legal sanctions and restrictions imposed upon people because of their criminal record—are hard to find and harder to understand. Now it will be easier to do both. Congress directed the National Institute of Justice to collect and study collateral consequences in all U.S. jurisdictions, and NIJ selected the ABA Criminal Justice Section to perform the necessary research and analysis. The results are now being made available through this interactive tool. See: http://www.abacollateralconsequences.org/

For a thorough list of over 1000 specific collateral consequence regulations in Maryland see: http://www.abacollateralconsequences.org/search/?jurisdiction=24

The American Bar Association has an impressive list of resources:
http://www.abacollateralconsequences.org/resources/
including:

“Collateral Consequences” in Maryland. Students in the University of Maryland’s School of law issued this  Report on the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions in MD (2007) examining the consequences of incarceration for the state’s returning citizens.

The Collateral Consequences Resource Center (CCRC) is a non-profit organization established in 2014 to promote public discussion of the collateral consequences of conviction, the legal restrictions and social stigma that burden people with a criminal record long after their court-imposed sentence has been served. The Center provides news and commentary about this dynamic area of the law, practice and advocacy resources, and information about how to obtain relief from collateral consequences in different jurisdictions.  See http://ccresourcecenter.org/

The CCRC has an up-to-date report on Maryland Restoration of Rights, Pardon, Expungement & Sealing. See http://ccresourcecenter.org/state-restoration-profiles/maryland-restoration-of-rights-pardon-expungement-sealing/

Margaret Colgate Love: “A New Approach to an Old Subject: The Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act.” This paper appends a state-by-state list of laws enacted in 2013-2014 dealing with relief from the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. Also appended to this paper is Sarah B. Berson’s article “Beyond the Sentence – Understanding Collateral Consequences” which discusses the National Institute of Justice’s database. See http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Interim/77th2013/Exhibits/ACAJ/E091214H.pdf

“The Collateral Consequences of Arrests and Convictions under D.C., Maryland, and Virginia Law.” by The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs. A report written in 2014 surveys the legal discrimination against returning citizens. See: http://www.washlaw.org/pdf/wlc_collateral_consequences_report.pdf

Here is an important New York Times op-ed about collateral consequences in Maryland: “In the United States, only those who are convicted of the most serious crimes get life sentences. But everyone who enters the criminal justice system can be marked for life. Even the briefest minor interaction with the justice system can leave someone with a criminal record — and a permanent barrier to a job, housing, education or an occupational license… Read the full article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/24/opinion/have-you-ever-been-arrested-check-here.html?_r=2

Other Re-entry Issues

“I hope Hogan keeps his campaign promises and leads Maryland out of the age of “life means life.” Doing so would downsize the prison population of elderly, sick, dying men and women who seek a chance to reconnect with the social contract. Taxpayers would benefit, and so would elderly incarcerated American citizens.” Read the full column by Larry Bratt in the Washington Post.

The Constellation is being renovated in dry-dock. While the ship itself is undergoing a renewal, so are many of the men who are working on her. The project is a collaboration between two important programs of the Living Classrooms Foundation , Historic Ships in Baltimore and Project SERVE . See this article by ABCNews.

“Ban the Box.” National Public Radio explored how banning a single question commonly asked by employers could help returning citizens find jobs in their communities and reduce recidivism. You can listen to or read their story.

Federal Agency Reentry Council.  Looking for some terrific resources to educate the community? Check out the Council’s series of “Mythbusters” on reentry.  They address a variety of subjects, and each is short and easy to print. They also offer excellent short “snapshots” on subjects such as “collateral consequences” and “women in reentry.”

NAACP Toolkit. The Successful Re-Entry Project: Working Towards Justice, Dignity and Redemption contains updated information, advocacy tools, guidelines for communication, and ways the National NAACP office can provide support to people working in this field. It is designed as a dynamic set of strategies and information to support advocacy for best practices and sound policies at the local, state, and national level.