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Reentry in the Media · Alliance Newsletters
The Second Chance Alliance recently achieved several significant victories at the General Assembly, including: establishment of Certificates of Relief, expansion of expunctions to first-time non-violent misdemeanors and felonies, creation of a state-wide network of local reentry councils, reasonable use of criminal histories by occupational licsensing boards, and prohibition of expunction inquiry.
These policy changes are important steps forward in our work to provide relief from criminal convictions.
Certificates of Relief
Individuals with certain criminal convictions may now apply for a “Certificate of Relief” from collateral consequences. The certificate is especially valuable for individuals automatically barred from certain occupational licensures based on their criminal convictions. Obtaining a certificate of relief overcomes such automatic bars; moreover, a certificate of relief is considered favorably in situations where occupational licensing agencies are allowed the discretion to deny a license based on a criminal conviction. A certificate of relief does not result in an expunction or pardon of the conviction. Importantly, an employer who hires an individual with a criminal record is protected against claims of negligent hiring.
The basic requirements of gaining the certificate are as follows:
- the person must have been convicted of no more than two Class G, H, or I felonies or misdemeanors in one session of court and have no other convictions,
- twelve months have passed since the person completed his or her sentence,
- the person is engaged in or is seeking to engage in a lawful occupation or activity,
- the person has no criminal charges pending,
- the person has complied with all requirements of the person’s sentence,
- granting the petition would not pose an unreasonable risk to the safety or welfare of the public
For more information visit here: Session Law 2011-265
Certificate of Relief Petition and Order
Second Chance Lobby Day
One of the most important opportunities to voice your support for second chances is our third biannual “Second Chance Lobby Day” which will occur at the North Carolina Legislative Building on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. All North Carolinians who care about this issue are encouraged to attend.
At past events we have voiced our support for a variety of specific reforms that provide genuine restorative opportunities to individuals ready and willing to move beyond their criminal records and contribute to their families and communities. Each participant will have the opportunity to speak directly with legislators.
Click here for a flyer.
Rep. David Guice (R-Henderson, Polk, Transylvania) participating in Second Chance Lobby Day. Rep. Guice, a former probation officer, sponsored The Certificate of Relief Act and the Justice Reinvestment Act.
Expunction of Non-violent Misdemeanors and Felonies
The General Assembly passed two laws expanding expunction opportunities to nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies.
Expunction of a Non-violent Felony Committed Before Age 18
An individual who has no other criminal conviction and committed a nonviolent felony before age 18 may petition for expunction of the conviction from the person’s criminal record.
To be eligible for this expunction:
- at least 4 years must have passed since the date of the conviction or the completion of any active sentence, period of probation, or post-release supervision, whichever is later;
- 100 hours of community service must have been performed by the individual.
For more information visit here: Session Law 2011-278
Expunction of a Nonviolent Misdemeanor or Felony at Any Age
An individual who has no other criminal conviction and committed a nonviolent misdemeanor or felony may petition for expunction of the conviction from the person’s criminal record.
To be eligible for this expunction:
- at least 15 years must have passed since the date of the conviction or the completion of any active sentence, period of probation, or post-release supervision, whichever is later.
For more information visit here: Session Law 2012-191
Local Reentry Councils
The General Assembly ordered the Department of Public Safety to work with local communities to create between 3 and 10 local reentry councils to develop comprehensive local reentry plans, to document and maximize the use of existing services, and to supervise and coordinate innovative responses to the reintegration of individuals with criminal records at the local level. The NC Second Chance Alliance has been working with the Department of Public Safety to create these councils and will continue to do so. Additionally, legislators ordered the Department of Public Safety to establish a state-level advisory board with representation of reentry involved state agencies, service providers, and directly impacted individual.
In addition to these legislative efforts, the NC Second Chance Alliance continues to promote Ban the Box practices in communities around the state as well as host public education events explaining the tools of relief that are currently available to individuals with criminal records.
Reasonable Use of Criminal Records by Occupational Licensing Boards
Hundreds of occupations in North Carolina require some form of licensure. In fact, these occupations constitute approximately 30 percent of all jobs.5 Consequently, well over one million North Carolinians—from lawyers to embalmers, plumbers to exterminators—must satisfy statutory and administrative requirements in order to work in their chosen fields.
The vast majority of North Carolina’s occupational licensing statutes give licensing boards and agencies the discretion to deny or revoke licensure based on various types of criminal convictions. These discretionary disqualifications, along with a handful of automatic bars to licensure, often prevent individualized assessments of the risk demonstrated by applicants’ criminal records, resulting in unnecessary denials of licensure. Traditionally, only a small number of these statutes have provided guidance on how to appropriately identify and weigh the risk of an applicant’s inability to satisfy the responsibilities of an occupation based on his prior criminal conduct.
Daniel Bowes and Bill Rowe highlighted this problem in an article for the North Carolina Bar Association, “Facilitating Individualized Assessments of Individuals with Criminal Records in Occupational Licensing Decisions.” In response to this article and further efforts by the Second Chance Alliance, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Session Law 2013-24. The new law is now in effect and prohibits licensing boards from automatically disqualifying individuals based on their criminal records, unless required to do so by statute. The law further requires licensing boards to consider 8 factors in weighing their decision, including how long ago the conviction(s) occurred and the nexus between the criminal activity and the duties of the occupation. Since the passage of this law, the NC Second Chance Alliance has worked with licensing boards to ensure their rules and practices are in compliance with this new law. We believe passage of this law and our ongoing partnerships with occupational licensing boards will help individuals with criminal histories move beyond their criminal records and contribute to their communities. Special thanks to the bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Hartsell.
Prohibit Expunction Inquiry
An unfortunate and growing trend among North Carolina employers were questions on employment application forms regarding whether or not job applicants had received an expunction of criminal records. Such inquiries had the intended effect of completely circumventing North Carolina’s expunction laws. Fortunately, Session Law 2013-53 stops this trend by explicitly prohibiting such inquiries.
Photos and Videos from past events
Alliance in the Media
Greensboro workshop focuses on cleaning up criminal records, Greensboro News & Record, February 28
Forgiving vs. forgetting, The Marshall Project, March 17
N.C. alliance seeks relief for ex-cons, News & Observer, May 5
’Second Chance’ Laws Sought, WRAL.com, May 5
Let felons earn a second chance, Richmond County Daily Journal, May 7
Are Mug Shots Public Documents? Coates Local Government Blog, UNC School of Government
Working to Help Others Leave Crime Behind, The American Lawyer, June 2013
Facilitating Individualized Assessments of Individuals with Criminal Records in Occupational Licensing Decisions, NC State Bar Association Newsletter, January 2013
Clinic gives hope for easing effect of criminal past, Elizabeth City Daily Advance - Chowan Herald, December, 17, 2012
New law can clear criminal records, Jefferson Post, December 6, 2012
Nonviolent offenders helped by new law, Charlotte Observer, December 3, 2012
New NC law will expunge records for thousands with older convictions, WSOC-TV, November 30, 2012
New Law Aids Job Seeks With Criminal Convictions, Burlington Times-News, October 6, 2012
New Website Shows Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Conviction, The Legal Times, Sept. 20, 2012
NAACP Annual Convention, Felony Disenfranchisement Panel, July 9, 2012, Dennis Gaddy
Mistake Shouldn't Define Life by Daniel Bowes, Fayetteville Observer, September 16, 2012
Back to School, Not For Some, by Peggy Nicholson, Fayetteville Observer, September 2, 2012
Offering Second Chances, Ending Collateral Consequences by Daniel Bowes, Policy & Progress, Summer 2012
Cases of Collateral Consequences, The State of Things, Interview with Daryl Atkinson, August 23, 2012
Collateral Consequences Assessment Tool, The State of Things, Interview with Daryl Atkinson, August 2, 2012
Law Clears Slate for Felons, The Charlotte Post, July 19, 2012
Reentry in the Media
For those trying to put old arrests behind them, mug shot sites have a message: Pay up, Associated Press, June 19, 2013
Reentry Councils Work Help Ex-inmates Transition, Virginia Pilot, June 30, 2013
EEOC Sues BMW and Dollar General For Criminal History Exclusions, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, June 11, 2013
EEOC Sues JB Hunt Trucking for Excluding Individuals with Criminal Records from Employment, Arkansas Business Journal, July 1, 2013
New York’s Innovative Solution to Crime: Betting on Success, Huffington Post, August 21, 2012
North Carolina Commission to Examine Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice System, Fayetteville Observer, August 17, 2012
Employment Background Screening Company to Pay $2.6 Million Penalty for Multiple Violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Federal Trade Commission, August 8, 2012
Editorial: A job is best crime prevention program, Sacramento Bee, June 27, 2012
“Report: Blacks, Hispanics in North Carolina get Searched by Police More than Whites,” Fayetteville Observer, June 22, 2012
U.S. Push on Illegal Bias Against Hiring Those With Criminal Records, New York Times, June 20, 2012.
Would Today’s America Let MLK Have a Job? Chicago Sun-Times, April 23, 2012
“Broken Records: How Errors by Criminal Background Checking Companies Harm Workers and Businesses,” National Consumer Law Center, April 12, 2012
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