Victory in Maryland
One of our defining issues through the Greater Baltimore Grassroots Criminal Justice Network in Maryland has been to work on policy reforms that remove barriers to reentry for returning citizens; particularly as they pertain to employment and housing. Last year, JPI lead a huge victory in Baltimore by working with the mayor’s office to have an extremely damaging provision removed that would have prohibited individuals with criminal records from working under city awarded contracts. Not only did the city work with us to have the language removed, but they included new language to encourage contractors who bid on those contracts to actively consider individuals with criminal records.
This year, JPI and the Job Opportunity Task Force scored another big victory for returning citizens as the governor just signed into law legislation to “Ban the Box” on state job applications in Maryland.
The law gives individuals with records a chance to get their foot in the door and be judged on their merit rather than automatically having their application dismissed because of a check box signifying that they had a felony conviction. Prospective employers, however, may still ask for felony disclosure during the interview phase.
Legislative Efforts in Annapolis
During this quarter, JPI has supported legislative efforts in Annapolis to remove barriers to employment and housing for individuals with criminal records. JPI supported HB1006/SB 701 to shield criminal records of Marylanders with nonviolent convictions. As research has shown that recidivism declines steadily over time, the proposed legislation would make certain nonviolent convictions eligible for shielding after a certain amount of time while still allowing law enforcement access to the records.
JPI also supported SB 282/HB 1053, a casino hiring bill aimed at ensuring Maryland residents have job opportunities at planned casino centers. The issue is that current law prohibits the hiring of any prospective employee who has in the past been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. The proposed legislation would prohibit the Maryland gaming commission from not hiring someone charged with moral turpitude conviction after five years of their conviction.
Child Support Forum May 22, 2013
JPI is leading the Greater Baltimore Grassroots Criminal Justice Network in hosting a child support forum aimed at assisting returning individuals who owe arrearages. The forum will be held at Coppin State University on May 22, and is designed to help educate returning citizens on Maryland child support laws and provide resources from agencies and organizations with child support enforcement jurisdiction.
Child support is one of the most debilitating collateral consequences of involvement in the Maryland justice system creating a situation that forces many returning noncustodial parents into an underground workforce that puts them back on course with the justice system.