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  • SBA Sued Over A Rule Barring Convicted Felons from PPP Loans
    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several other civil rights organizations sued the Small Business Association for excluding business owners with felony convictions from a $670 billion relief program for small businesses. In light of the lawsuit, the SBA has allowed small business owners convicted of nonfinancial crimes in the past few years to apply for COVID-19 relief loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. The program will allow individuals who have been convicted, pleaded guilty or been placed on parole or probation for felony crimes to apply. Previously, people with a felony conviction in the last five years or individuals under community supervision could not apply. A restriction that was not included in the original CARES Act.
  • New COVID-19 Cases at Elkton Federal Prison
    According to a local news source, 103 of the 117 new COVID-19 cases in Columbiana County were from Elkton Federal Correctional Institution. That amounts to 90 percent of all new cases. Of the county’s 1,218 total cases, 783 or 64% were at the prison. The Union President for corrections officers at the prison said that most new cases were asymptomatic. Thus far, nine detainees have died, and the Bureau of Prisons is reporting 360 detainees and 7 staff are currently infected.
  • Ohio House Passes Bill Restricting Future Changes to Elections
    The Ohio House passed an elections bill that would prohibit Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration, or any public official, from changing the time, place, or manner of any future state election. The bill shortens the deadline to request a mail-in ballot by four days, or one week before Election Day. It also bars Secretary of State Frank LaRose from providing voters with postage-paid envelopes along with their ballot applications and blank ballots. Some have complained that the definition of “public official” is overbroad and would deny elected judges or elections officials from closing a polling place and switching to mail-in voting if the current viral pandemic worsens or poll workers opt not to work on Election Day, out of fear of contracting the virus. Many poll workers are older and remain fearful of contracting the disease should a second wave of COVID-19 arise in the fall.
  • For Local Criminal Justice Systems: Planning for the Future Can’t Wait
    Many local jurisdictions have used foundation funding to make changes to their mental health and criminal justice initiatives. However, when those dollars run out, many do not have a long-term plan to sustain, expand or “scale up” those projects within their community. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center developed a set of tools, called the Financing the Future of Local Initiative, which walks counties through the planning process for sustainability and scaling. The tool was piloted in Lake County, Illinois, where they built a merged behavioral health program to serve people referred by law enforcement and jail officials, or community members who did not want to be stigmatized or arrested, but chose to enter the facility to receive mental health and drug treatment.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: A Look into Court-Based Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions
    The FAQs information sheet looks at how local leaders with a systems-level conceptual framework can develop a continuum of behavioral health diversion interventions that span the community’s criminal justice system.
  • Improving Responses to People Who Have Co-Occurring Mental Illnesses and Substance Use Disorders in Jails
    The brief outlines how jail administrators and staff can improve their responses to individuals with co-occurring mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Staff can implement practices that focus on the identification and provision of services, including conducting standard screening and assessment and linking people to services through collaborative comprehensive case management.
  • Corrections Checklist Helps Support Reentry During Pandemic
    The reentry checklist, developed by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, outlines how corrections staff can support people through reentry, based upon their survey responses. This checklist can be especially helpful as individuals transition back into the community and connect them to vital resources and services to promote long-term successful reentry. The name of the checklist is Preparing People for Reentry: Checklist for Correctional Facilities.
  • Five Ways States Can Prep Youth in the Justice System for Employment
    These recommendations are based upon a survey administered to staff at juvenile correctional agencies in all 50 states during 2018. The survey questions asked about the delivery of workforce development services to the approximately 32,000 incarcerated youth who are committed to state custody nationwide. The researchers focused on whether these services were integrated into case and reentry planning, if the agencies had developed partnerships with workforce development agencies and educational institutions, and what data the agencies collected on workforce development and youth employment outcomes.
  • Improving Access to High-Quality Career Technician Education for Youth and Young Adults in the Justice System
    The report explores how states can improve education for incarcerated youth in the career and technical fields. The brief outlines five actions State Career Technical Education (CTE) Directors can take to make sure that youth and young adults in the juvenile justice system have access to career training that is equivalent to the programming offered to their peers in the community.
  • New Analysis Shows Surge of COVID-19 Cases and Deaths Inside State Prisons
    Across the country, conservative estimates have shown that incarcerated people and prison staff were at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 during the months of April and May. COVID-19 cases were 3.75 times higher for incarcerated people than the general population, while cases among staff were 3.33 times higher. The number of cases within the prison began to outpace the rest of the country in late April. The disproportionate rates between the general population and incarcerated populations were highest on May 3, with the number of positive COVID-19 cases being 27 times higher in the prisons than out in the community. While the number of positive cases has dramatically decreased in state prison facilities, it is likely another resurgence could occur with an influx of new inmates.
  • A State-by-State Look at Coronavirus in Prisons
    By June 23, at least 48,764 people in prison had tested positive for COVID-19, a 5 percent increase from the week before. The growth is largely attributable to testing in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. Of all the people testing positive for the virus, 27,715 prisoners have recovered. The correctional institution systems with the highest number of cases are Texas (7,575), the Bureau of Prisons (6,621), Ohio (4,950), Michigan (3,991), California (3,800), and Tennessee (3,171). You can find your state here.
  • How to End De Facto Disenfranchisement in the Criminal Justice System
    Nationally, many Americans erroneously believe that the federal government decides who can vote and how elections are handled for each state. In reality, states decide the criteria for their electors, how and where elections are conducted and what criminal offenses can disqualify someone from voting. This resource lists a series of recommendations about how states can increase access to the ballot for people who are eligible to vote after they are released from incarceration, and how eligible voters who are still incarcerated can vote in any election.
  • Senator Rob Portman's Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak at Federal Correctional Institution Elkton
    Senator Portman released a statement asking the Bureau of Prisons to increase COVID-19 testing at the Elkton facility after nine detainees died in recent weeks. In April, he sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr and the Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal to increase COVID-19 testing at the prison.
  • Federal Judge Rules Florida Felon Pay-to-Vote Law Unconstitutional
    A federal judge ruled Sunday that Florida's pay-to-vote law is unconstitutional when applied to formerly incarcerated people who are eligible to vote but are unable to pay outstanding fines and fees stemming from their criminal convictions. Historically, under Florida law, individuals convicted of a felony could not vote unless they rights were restored by Florida's governor and a panel of individuals who rarely approved more than 50 voting applications from returning citizens per year. To overcome that intransigent system, a group of activists were able to get Amendment 4 on Florida's 2018 ballot, which stated that upon the completion of an individual's felony sentence, probation and parole, except for those convicted of a murder or sex offense, their right to vote would be restored. However, Florida's legislature, when enacting the Amendment, defined the completion of a criminal sentence to include satisfaction of all financial obligations, effectively re-disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Florida voters. In a 125-page opinion, Judge Robert Hinkle said that "a state may disenfranchise felons and impose conditions on their re-enfranchisement. But the conditions must pass constitutional scrutiny." Florida's law does not.
  • Coronavirus Tracker: How Justice Systems are Responding in Each State
    A tracker created by The Marshall Project shows each state's response to COVID-19 within their prison institutions. Personal visits were suspended on March 12 but legal visits have still been permitted. As the outbreak subsides, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will make a determination of when visitations can resume. That determination will be in line with the Ohio Department of Health's recommendations.
  • House Bill 285 Makes The Driver's License Fee Debt Reduction Program Permanent
    H.B. 285 was passed by both the Ohio Senate and House. The bill memorializes the license reinstatement amnesty program which was piloted in 2019. The pilot program allowed at least 85,000 Ohio drivers to reinstate their licenses by either waiving or reducing fees owed to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Thousands of Ohioans had their driver's licenses suspended for a myriad of violations but struggled to regain their driving privileges after completing all court sanctions because of the lack of affordability of the BMV fees.
  • Pretrial Justice Institute: Updated Position on Pretrial Risk Assessment Tools
    The PJI has reversed its position on risk assessment tools for individuals facing detention in jail. These assessments allowed judges to predict an individual’s chance of reappearing in court or committing a new offense while they were on bail or bond before trial. However, PJI has found the tools were structurally inequitable and did not increase pretrial liberty rates without financial conditions for everyone. Minorities were still disproportionally incarcerated because these tools used zip codes or smaller infractions, such as license suspensions or driving without insurance, minor offenses most likely to affect poor individuals, to determine detention decisions.
  • Governor Mike DeWine Creates Streamlined Pardon Process to Help Ohio’s Returning Citizens
    Governor DeWine created a new pardon project to accelerate the clemency process for individuals who have not received a new criminal conviction in the past ten years. Individuals who have demonstrated rehabilitation, have significant work experience or volunteerism, and faced significant barriers to employment should consider applying. The pardon will remove the collateral consequences of someone’s conviction, but it will not erase the criminal history. A person will still have to apply for record sealing with their local court.  
  • Ohio Legal Help Launches to the Public
    Ohio Legal Help provides plain language legal information, interactive self-help tools, and connections to local legal and community resources to help Ohioans resolve their legal issues. All content is reviewed by lawyers, to ensure the website is easy to understand and accurate.    
  • Ohio Voting Rights Online Tool 
    A new voting rights resource at 
    www.RestoreYourVote.org provides useful information for individuals with criminal convictions and their ability to vote. The online tool takes the complicated legal framework of each state into an easy to use questionnaire that people with convictions, or agencies serving this population, can use to determine their voting eligibility and the steps they can take to restore their right to vote. Read more of the story of an Alabama voter who thought he was ineligible to vote due to his felony conviction.
     

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