BUILDING ON THE SUCCESS OF BAN THE BOX, MAYOR DESTEFANO ANNOUNCES NEW REENTRY INITIATIVE PROPOSAL
(1/12/2012) NEW HAVEN— Building upon the success of New Haven’s Ban the Box policy, the City’s Reentry Initiative is seeking an ordinance amendment to add new clarity and transparency to City licensing and permit decisions regarding individuals with criminal records, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. announced.
“The proposed ordinance amendment builds on the achievements of the City's 2009 Ban the Box ordinance by reducing barriers to successful reintegration confronted by individuals with criminal convictions regarding city licenses and permits. Modeled on legislative recommendations from the American Bar Association and the Uniform Law Commission, the law would be the first in the nation to improve transparency by mandating the collection and publication of collateral consequences,” said Amy Meek, coordinator for the Reentry Initiative.
The legislation, entitled the Collateral Consequences Ordinance, would require the City to compile and publish online all local laws allowing for the consideration of criminal convictions in decisions regarding jobs, contracts, licenses, and other benefits. Further, the ordinance provides simple guidelines for the consideration of criminal records in the issuance of licenses and permits.
The proposal would clarify the City’s licensing process by requiring that the factors used in determining whether an applicant’s criminal record is relevant to a license or permit be the same ones used to determine relevance for purposes of employment. Under the “Ban the Box” ordinance passed in 2009, the City considers factors including the nature of the conviction and its relationship to the type of benefit sought, the length of time that has passed since the conviction, the gravity of the offense, the age at the time of the offense, and information relating to rehabilitation and good conduct.
The term “collateral consequences” refers to the legal consequences that result from a criminal conviction but are not part of the sentence for the crime. This may include denial of licenses and permits, ineligibility for public programs, and impairment of voting rights. The Collateral Consequence Ordinance seeks to increase transparency regarding the long term consequences of a criminal conviction.
“When we think about reentry, we often think about recently released individuals, many of whom need comprehensive support to build a safe and stable future. But there is another group of individuals, those who have older convictions on their records, who continue to face barriers to employment and stable success. The City benefits as a whole when all residents have opportunities for stable employment,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
An estimated one in four Americans has a criminal conviction on his or her record. Currently, about one in seven applications to the City for a food cart or vendor permit are denied due to a criminal record.
The ordinance amendment will be submitted to the Board of Aldermen as a communication at their January 17 meeting.
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