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  • Baltimore Will Stop Prosecuting Marijuana Possession
    Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Tuesday her office would cease prosecuting people for possessing marijuana regardless of the quantity or the person’s criminal history. Mosby also requested the courts vacate convictions in nearly 5,000 cases of marijuana possession. 
  • Supreme Court Rules Unanimously Wednesday on Civil Forfeiture Case
    The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applies to the states, an outcome that could help rein in police’s seizure of property from criminal suspects. 
  • San Francisco to Dismiss All Marijuana Convictions Dating Back to 1975
    District Attorney George Gascon addressed the failed ‘war on drugs’ by vacating all marijuana possession convictions dating back to 1975. All marijuana misdemeanor conviction cases were immediately dismissed in February 2018, and anyone with arrest records stemming from misdemeanor marijuana possession would also have their records cleared. Finally, the city committed to reviewing felony possession cases of marijuana and, where appropriate, reclassify them as misdemeanor offenses. 
  • Ohio Chief Justice Seeks Major Changes to State’s Bail Practices
    Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, who campaigned against Issue 1 last fall, is calling for changes to the state criminal justice system by expanding the in lieu of conviction program that allows eligible individuals to complete drug treatment instead of facing a criminal conviction. She also wants to make it easier for people with certain low-level felony criminal convictions to seal their records, making it easier for them to apply for jobs.
  • The 2019 Greater Cleveland Returned Citizen Symposium
    Building Wealth and Inspiring Civic Engagement: Saturday June 1, 2019 at 8:00 am to 11:45 am at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank 15500 Waterloo Rd., Cleveland, Ohio 44110
  • Pilot Amnesty Program Can Reinstate Suspended Licenses for Eligible Drivers
    A new Ohio law will help individuals who have had their licenses suspended for 18 months or more get back on the road. The amnesty program, which was passed into law by Ohio HB336, is a pilot program being operated by the Ohio Registrar of Motor Vehicles. Eligible motorists can apply for a reduction in reinstatement fees if they have complied with court-ordered sanctions. Individuals who receive food benefits can receive an elimination of all restatement fees if they meet program eligibility requirements. 
  • Exemptions on SNAP Work Requirements Impacts Urban Areas Most
    An analysis of food stamp use in Ohio, found counties exempted from work rules had overwhelmingly white populations. Meanwhile, urban areas, where black poverty is higher, had the most stringent work requirements. Additionally, with exemptions being implemented at the county level it creates racial disparities in who is exempted from work rules or who is required to work more hours for the same level of benefits.
  • Nashville Launches Non-Punitive Model for Restoring Driving Privileges
    In Cleveland, driving with a suspended license, or no license at all, usually means a hefty fine, court costs and time in jail. However, Nashville is taking a different approach by issuing citations for individuals with no outstanding warrants or charges, or those not serving probation for a DUI or another driving-related offense. The citation option greatly decreases court costs and other punitive measures which can indebt suspended-license drivers.
  • Group Registers Eligible Voters in Lake County Jail
    All Voting is Local and other local volunteers registered eligible voters in Lake County jail on October 9, 2018. Voters who are not currently incarcerated for a felony, including felony probation or felony parole violations, can vote in Ohio. Detained individuals often face challenges with voting because they cannot access the absentee ballot application required to have their ballot sent to the jail, if they will be detained on Election Day, or the voter registration form if they are not registered voters.
  • Changing Ohio’s Civil Asset and Forfeiture Practices
    In the past, property could be seized and forfeited if law enforcement officers suspected it was used for the commission, or attained through, a crime. Oftentimes, small sums of money, or a person’s car or home could be seized without a person being criminally convicted of a crime. This practice resulted in $25.7 million dollars in revenue for law enforcement agencies across the state of Ohio and left many property owners without substantial recourse to prove their innocence and recoup their forfeited investments. Beginning in 2017, changes in forfeiture laws will mean any property valued at $25,000 or less can only be seized if the owner has been criminally convicted, and it can be proven by clear and convincing evidence that the property was used to facilitate a crime. Finally, if real property is at stake, property owners will be granted a pre-seizure hearing if agencies are targeting the property.
  • Exonerees Inspire Newest Class of Law Students
    University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Innocence Project, based in their College of Law, was created by Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, attorney William Gallagher and UC law professor Jack Chin, to free every person in Ohio who has been convicted of a crime they did not commit. The legal clinic was founded in 2003 and it has worked to exonerate 27 wrongfully convicted citizens who served a total of 450 years behind bars. UC law professor, Mark Godsey, is the current legal director and a former prosecutor and author of “Blind Injustice.” The article shares stories of individuals they helped to exonerate and free from prison.  
  • Fair Housing Rights for Returning Citizens
    The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) is pleased to announce the publication of An Affordable Home of Reentry. The manual was last published in 2008 and has been fully updated. It is an essential tool for advocates working for people who have criminal records and are seeking access to federally assisted housing. The publication also covers federal statutes and regulations governing admissions and continued occupancy for individuals with a criminal record.
  • 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.
  • First Step Act Legislation
    House Bill 5682 requires the Department of Justice to develop and apply a risk and needs assessment system to identify a prisoner’s risk and assign them to appropriate evidence-based programming. Prison residents can earn incentives for participating in the programming. Programs could include vocational training, educational support, substance abuse treatment and other opportunities.
  • Zero Six Eight
    Zero Eight Six is a for-profit business incubator with a unique mission. Zero Six Eight derives its name from the last three digits of ID numbers that identify federal prisoners from the Pittsburgh area. It is also a for-profit business incubator that allows ex-offenders and those willing to hire formerly incarcerated individuals to come together to create employment opportunities for the returning citizen population.
  • Accelerating Prison Reform and Prison Alternatives 
    With his eight-year term as Ohio’s prison chief nearing an end, Gary Mohr said the state needs to find more alternatives to prison for non-violent drug offenders and the mentally ill. 
  • Criminal Record Sealing in Ohio
    In Ohio, criminal records cannot be completely erased or “expunged,” unless they are related to human trafficking. Under Ohio’s Revised Code 2953.31 – 2953.61, when a record is sealed, the electronic and paper records of a person’s criminal charges are filed in a separate, secure location. Certain individuals are eligible to have their records sealed depending upon their conviction. To learn more about eligibility requirements for record sealing or about this process, visit the Ohio Justice and Policy Center.
  • How Financial Literacy Can Assist Offender Rehabilitation 
    Many returning citizens carry significant debt when exiting prison, including fines, court costs, traffic tickets, license reinstatement fees, past due child support and victim restitution. These debts are often coupled with poor knowledge of financial education and can lead to pitfalls with payday loans, poor savings and debt crises. Tyson Howard discusses how financial literacy can benefit currently incarcerated individuals and ready them for their release.
  • Clean Slate Act: Sealing Nonviolent Marijuana Offenses
    People convicted of federal, nonviolent marijuana offenses or drug possessions would have their records automatically sealed under a U.S. House bill introduced on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. The bill was sponsored by Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-D3) and has been co-sponsored by 20 other legislators including Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
     

    Events 

    • Record Sealing and CQE Training for Individuals with Criminal Backgrounds 
      Various dates: June 21st; August 9th; October 11th; December 13th
      3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
      North Star Neighborhood Reentry Resource Center
      1834 E. 55th Street
      Cleveland, Ohio 44103
      Open to the public. Registration not required but appreciated.
      Register here
    • 2019 Brief Advice and Referral Clinics by The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (various dates and locations)
      Free legal advice for Civil Matters Only

      Wednesday, May 1, 2019  
      2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
      VA Community Referral and Resource Center
      7000 Euclid Avenue
      Call 216-391-0264 for an appointment

      Saturday, May 11, 2019  
      10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
      Cleveland Public Library – Fulton Branch
      3545 Fulton Rd

      Wednesday, May 15, 2019  
      2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
      Cleveland Public Library – Main Branch
      325 Superior Avenue

      Wednesday, June 5, 2019 
      2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
      VA Community Referral and Resource Center
      7000 Euclid Avenue
      Call 216-391-0264 for an appointment
    • Panel Discussion on Research-Based Efforts in Reentry 
      Tuesday, April 23, 2019
      Forest City Brewery
      2135 Columbus Rd, Cleveland
      Panelists: Dr. David Hussey, CWRU; Mr. Damian Calvert, City of Cleveland; Bethia Burke, The Fund for Our Economic Future
      Light hors d’oeuvres will be served.
      More Information
      Register here
    • Facing Housing Discrimination with a Criminal Background
      Wednesday, April 24, 2019
      Greenbridge Commons
      7515 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland
      RSVP required
    • How to Start a Business as a Returned Citizen?
      Thursday, April 25, 2019
      Martin Luther King, Jr., Branch of the Cleveland Public Library
      1962 Stokes Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106
      Register here 
      Call (216) 698-3437 for more information.
    • Third Annual Breaking Down Barriers Hiring Event
      Friday, April 26, 2019
      Oriana Hough Center (The Old Salvation Army)
      6000 Hough Avenue, Cleveland
      No RSVP required. Call (216) 881-5440 for any questions.
    • Remarks from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose
      Friday, April 26, 2019
      12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
      The City Club of Cleveland
      850 Euclid Avenue
      Cleveland, Ohio 44114
      Cost: $22 for members; $37 for non-members
      Buy tickets here
    • The Intersection of Art and Bail Reform w/ Artist Joe Sharp
      Saturday, April 27, 2019
      50 Public Square, Downtown Cleveland
      Register here
    • 2019 TASC Conference presented by Cuyahoga Adult and Juvenile TASC
      25th Annual Conference on Drugs, Crime, and Reentry
      Monday, April 29th - Wednesday, May 1st
      Hilton Cleveland Downtown
      Register Cost: $550 for 2 ½ days. Hotel Cost is $141/night.
      Register here
    • Rebuilding Our Community
      Friday, May 3, 2019
      8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
      Tri-C Metro
      2900 Community College Avenue
      Cleveland, Ohio 44115
      A Robert L. Lewis Academy for Social Justice symposium - Breakout sessions to focus on addressing issues affecting the community.
      Community members are $30 admission. Tri-C students and Employees receive free admission.
      More information
    • Friday's Child
      Tuesday, May 7, 2019
      7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
      Capitol Theatre
      1390 West 65th Street
      Cleveland, Ohio 44102
      A film screening of a youth who has aged out of foster care and resorts to petty crime to survive.
    • Dispatches from Cleveland
      Tuesday, May 8, 2019
      6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
      Capitol Theatre
      1390 West 65th Street
      Cleveland, Ohio 44102
      A film screening in five parts that covers the early 21st century, rustbelt city of Cleveland, OH. The film is part of the 2nd Annual Racial Equity & Inclusion Film Series presented by Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization.
      Admission is $5 but no one will be turned away. Free food, Cash bar.
      Buy tickets
    • 25th Annual Break the Cycle Luncheon
      Hosted by the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center
      Friday, May 17, 2019
      11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
      Windows on the River
      2000 Sycamore Street
      Cleveland, Ohio 44113
      Buy tickets
    • 1st Annual Free Community Resource Fair
      Saturday, May 18, 2019
      10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
      Ginn Academy
      655 East 162nd Street
      Cleveland, Ohio 44110
      Black Child Development Institute is holding its first annual community resource fair for families.
      Call (216) 464-3507 or e-mail cleveland@affiliates.nbcdi.org for more information.
    • The 2019 Greater Cleveland Returned Citizen Symposium: Building Wealth and Inspiring Civic Engagement
      Saturday, June 1, 2019
      8:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
      Greater Cleveland Food Bank
      15500 South Waterloo Road
      Cleveland, Ohio 44110
      A symposium for Cleveland’s returned citizens. Guest speakers, a continental breakfast and more.
      RSVP here
    • Clean Slate: Removing Barriers to Employment with Record Sealing (Attorneys Only)
      Wednesday, June 5, 2019
      9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
      Westshore Training Center
      9830 Lorain Avenue
      Cleveland, Ohio 44102
      2 CLE credits available (and free) for Licensed Attorneys only.
      Register here
    • Clean Slate: Removing Barriers to Employment with Record Sealing (Open to the Public)
      Wednesday, August 14, 2019
      Westshore Training Center
      9830 Lorain Avenue
      Cleveland, Ohio 44102
      2 CEU credits available for social workers, counselors and health professionals.
      Register here