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News  

  • In the Neighborhood 2020 Schedule
    Cleveland Clerk of Courts Earle B. Turner is scheduling court appearances in the public. Individuals can get on a payment plan for old traffic and misdemeanor warrants for: Bedford, Berea, Bratenahl, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, Euclid, Garland Heights, Lyndhurst, Parma, Rocky River, Shaker Heights, South Euclid and Woodmere. Dates are as follows:
    • Collinwood Rec. Center, 16300 Lakeshore Blvd., 44110
      Thursday, April 9, 2020: First 100 people being served; Sign-up begins at 9 a.m.
    • The Word Church (Vernon Center), 18900 S. Miles Rd., 44128
      Thursday, April 23, 2020: First 100 people being served; Sign-up begins at 9 a.m.
    • 2nd Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 12017 Emery Ave., 44135
      Thursday, May 7, 2020: First 100 people being served; Sign-up begins at 9 a.m.
    • Holy Trinity Baptist Church, 3808 E. 131st St., 44120
      Thursday, May 21, 2020: First 100 people being served; Sign-up begins at 9 a.m.
    • La Sagrada Familia, 7719 Detroit Ave, 44102
      Thursday, June 4, 2020: First 100 people being served; Sign-up begins at 9 a.m.
    • Open Door Baptist Church, 8512 Woodland Ave., 44104
      Thursday, June 11, 2020: First 100 people being served; Sign-up begins at 9 a.m.
    • St. Rocco Catholic Church, 3205 Fulton Rd., 44109
      Thursday, June 18, 2020: First 100 people being served; Sign-up begins at 9 a.m.
    • Tri-C/Thorton Center, 2500 E. 22nd St., 44115
      Thursday, July 9, 2020: First 100 people being served; Sign-up begins at 9 a.m.
    • Greater Friendship Baptist Church, 12305 Arlington Ave., 44115
      Thursday, July 23, 2020: First 100 people being served; Sign-up begins at 9 a.m.
  • 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.
  • Oakland Passes a Local Ordinance to Ban Background Checks on Certain Housing Applications
    Oakland is the third major city in California to prohibit landlords and leasing agents from using background checks when initially screening rental applicants. Accessory dwelling units, single-family homes, duplexes and triplexes are exempt from the city's ordinance, and landlords will still be able to reference sex offender registries before extending a housing offer. Section 8 vouchers and units funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development can conduct a limited federal background check as required by federal rules too.
  • Florida State Amendment Defining Criminal Sentencing and Affecting Individuals’ Voting Rights
    A Florida law approved the voting rights for only a few returning citizens after a state ballot initiative passed with strong voter support in 2018. The law requires individuals to repay all of their fines and fees before becoming eligible to vote. The ballot initiative did not define a criminal sentence, and to narrow who could be eligible to vote the legislature clarified fines and fees as a requirement for being free of any court-ordered sanctions for purposes of regaining back a person’s voting rights.
  • Justices Should Reconsider When Wrongfully Convicted People Can Seek Damages, ABA Says
    The American Bar Association is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case that predicates a person’s release, after their unlawful conviction on a new plea, rather than vacating the prior conviction. The plaintiff, Louis Taylor, was convicted at 16 for starting a fire at Pioneer Hotel in Tucson, Arizona that killed 29 people. Evidence that was suppressed by the prosecution showed the hotel fire was not caused by arson or a fire accelerant. Before they released Taylor, they required him to sign a no contest plea. The plea prevented him from seeking compensation for his unlawful detention.
  • In Ohio: Medicaid’s End-of-Year Report Reveals Problems Stemming from Eligibility System
    The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) released a 13-page end-of-year report that detailed myriad issues across the health care program. The audit found issues within the program, not with enrollees, that resulted in improper payments. The payment error rate measurement (PERM) audit uncovered incorrect coding, incorrect federal match, or insufficient documentation in a beneficiary’s case file.
  • Cleveland to Lose $13 million with new SNAP rules
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed rules to SNAP are set to go in effect in March of 2020. The rules would change eligibility calculations if participants receive other means-tested assistance or there is an able-bodied working adult (ABWD) who is unable to find work in their area. With these changes, the average household would see a $45 benefit cut.
  • 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.
  • NYC Case a ‘Warning Shot’ in Struggle to End Housing Bias Against Returning Citizens
    A landlord accused of setting up a blanket ban on accepting individuals with criminal convictions was made to pay a $1.187 million settlement for housing discrimination. The suit was brought by The Fortune Society, a not-for-profit community-based organization that supports successful community reentry, including job-training and placement services for formerly incarcerated persons.
  • JP Morgan Wants to Hire People with Criminal Backgrounds
    The bank is looking to broaden its pool of potential employees for entry level jobs, like transaction processing and account servicing. The U.S. loses $78 billion and $87 billion in annual GDP by excluding people who have a criminal record from the workforce.
  • New York Could Become First State to End Funding for Private Prisons
    New York is one of three states nationally that have prohibited the operation of private prisons within the state prison system. The state has gone one step further by passing S5433 in the State Senate, which prohibits state-chartered banks from investing in and providing financing to private prisons.  
  • People Whose Criminal Convictions Stem from Medical Debt.
    Individuals across the country have developed criminal histories because of unpaid hospital debt. Many hospitals and contractors of radiology and medical services will hire attorneys to collect unpaid debt and when debtors fail to appear for their court date they have a warrant issued for their arrest. Local magistrates can also send people to jail regardless of how sick or mentally ill they are for bills as low as $100.
  • How Prison Can Destroy Your Credit Score and What to do About It
    Prison can damage someone’s credit score during incarceration if they fail to pay monthly bills, particularly student loan debt, a mortgage or a car loan. Even utilities can be reported to a credit bureau if the debt is unresolved. This article introduces some helpful tips of how to rebuild your credit if you’ve been incarcerated.
  • How to Request a Credit Report While You are Incarcerated
    People who are incarcerated can be vulnerable to identity theft or scammers using their personal information to open up new accounts while they are detained. The only real ways to prevent this is by placing an alert on a credit account or by checking a credit report annually. Requesting a credit report from prison requires sending a letter to the Annual Credit Report Request Services. More details are listed in the article.
  • 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.
  • 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.   
  • 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.
  • 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.
     

    Events 

    • Cuyahoga Common Pleas Pro Bono Collaborative
      Civil Legal Assistance for Those in Need
      The Justice Center – Courtroom 15-D
      1200 Ontario Street
      Registration required: Mark Shannon, Pro Bono Coordinator
      (216) 348-4027 or mshannon@cuyahogacounty.us
      Dates are as follows:
      March 20th
      April 17th
      May 22nd
      June 19th
      July 17th
      August 21st
      September 18th
      October 16th
      November 20th
      December 18th
    • Dark Waters Public Screening
      Wednesday, March 25, 2020
      6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
      Urban Community School
      4909 Lorain Avenue
      Cleveland, Ohio 44102
      Dark waters tells the story of an attorney who seeks to bring big corporations to justice for illegal dumping.
    • Prison Movements Then and Now!
      Monday, April 6, 2020
      Case Western Reserve University
      Tinkham Veale University Center
      11038 Bellflower Road
      Cleveland, Ohio 44106
      This event is free and open to the community. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP to socialjustice@case.edu.
    • Conference on Reentry in an Age of Mass Incarceration
      April 14, 2020
      Case Western Reserve University
      Tinkham Veale University Center
      11038 Bellflower Road
      Cleveland, Ohio 44106
    • Racial Disparity, Social Justice, and the Opioid Crisis
      April 17, 2020
      Case Western Reserve University
      Tinkham Veale University Center
      11038 Bellflower Road
      Cleveland, Ohi 44106
    • Racial Disparity, Social Justice and the Opioid Crisis
      Friday, April 17, 2020 - Saturday, April 18, 2020
      Case Western Reserve University
      Linsalata Alumni Center
      11310 Juniper Road
      Cleveland, Ohio 44106
      Registration will go live in January 2020.
    • Race, Food, and Justice: Analyzing the Urban Food Movement
      April 18, 2020
      Case Western Reserve University
      Tinkham Veale University Center
      11038 Bellflower Road
      Cleveland, Ohio 44106
    • Women’s Suffrage Centennial Symposium
      Saturday, April 19, 2020
      9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
      Case Western Reserve University
      Tinkham Veale University Center
      11038 Bellflower Road
      Cleveland, Ohio 44106
      Ticket price, including lunch, is $35. Students w/ ID pay only $10.
      RSVP Here