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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.
  • Mass Incarceration and the Challenge of Reentry
    Bruce Western, sociologist and co-director of Columbia University’s Justice Lab and the author of Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison, shares his research findings about the first year after incarceration and he argues for more support for reentry services.
  • Rikers Island Commission Unveils Plan to Shut Down Jail Complex
    Bruce Western, sociologist and co-director of Columbia University’s Justice Lab and the author of Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison, shares his research findings about the first year after incarceration and he argues for more support for reentry services.
  • The View from Inside: Ohio’s Prison Chief on Re-entry and Criminal Justice Reform
    Ohio Director Gary C. Mohr of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections delivered a presentation at the City Club of Cleveland, a non-partisan forum that was incorporated in 1912, on August 17, 2018. Director Mohr discussed the state of corrections and criminal justice in Ohio.
  • 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.
  • Virginia Jail Using Yoga to Give Inmates ‘Life Balance’ and Reduce Recidivism
    A new program, called “Balancing Your Life,” aims to improve impulse control and decision making and, ultimately, reduce how participants reoffend after release. Balancing happens through yoga and breathing classes offered inside the prison walls. 
  • 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: February 8th; April 12th; 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
    • Mommy Dearest: Myths and Realities of Women in Prison
      Speaker: Dr. Susan Hatters-Friedman, Director of Forensic Psychiatry, UH Cleveland Medical Center
      Monday, February 25, 2019
      12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
      Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Moot Courtroom
      1801 Euclid Avenue
      Cleveland, Ohio 44115
      Register here
    • How to Reduce Gun Violence in Ohio
      Hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland
      Tuesday, February 26, 2019
      7:00 pm. - 8:30 p.m.
      Tinkham Veale University Center
      11038 Bellflower Road
      Cleveland, Ohio 44106
      More information
    • Dominion Energy Employment Information Session
      Learn about all Dominion Energy Careers & Workplace Culture
      Friday, March 1, 2019
      10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
      1801 Superior Avenue, Ste. 400
      Cleveland, Ohio 44114
      (Enter at E. 21st St., 4th floor)
      For more information: Call Workforce Development at (216) 651-5188 ext. 638
      Pre-registration at: http://www.ceogc.org/events/event/career-info-session/
    • ConstitutionALE - The Fifth Amendment: Self-Incrimination and Double Jeopardy
      Monday, March 11, 2019
      5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
      Great Lakes Brewing Company Tasting Room
      2701 Carroll Avenue
      Cleveland, Ohio 44113
      Cost: $10 for members; $20 for non-members
      Buy tickets here
    • Ohio Means Jobs Cleveland In-Demand Jobs Week
      Monday, March 11 - Friday, March 15, 2019

      March 11: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
      In-Demand Jobs Reentry Panel Discussion
      North Star Neighborhood Reentry Resource Center
      1834 E. 55th Street
      Cleveland, Ohio 44103

      March 12: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
      Lincoln Electric Welding Training Center Open
      Lincoln Electric, Technology and Training Center,
      22800 St. Clair
      Cleveland, Ohio 44117

      March 13: 9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
      In-Demand Skills Pathway Day: Featuring Local Training Providers
      Ohio Means Jobs | Cuyahoga County
      1910 Carnegie Avenue
      Cleveland, Ohio 44115
      Local Training Providers will be available to speak with prospective candidates.

      March 14: 9 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
      In-Demand Career Pathway Day: Featuring Local Employers
      Various Locations.

      March 15: 10 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
      In-Demand Matching Event Tri-C Metro Campus Manufacturing Technology Center, Rm. 229
      2415 Woodland Avenue
      Cleveland, Ohio 44115

      For all events visit http://omj.ohio.gov/indemandjobsweek/index.stm.
      Dates and times will vary.
    • Company Town: A Documentary and Discussion about Environmental Justice, Race and Power
      Monday, March 18, 2019
      6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
      Tinkham Veale University Center
      11038 Bellflower Road, Ballroom B
      Cleveland, Ohio 44106
      RSVP to socialjustice@case.edu
    • Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent
      Wednesday, March 20, 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
    • Councilman Kevin Conwell's Health, Job and Wellness Resource Fair
      Thursday, March 21, 2019
      10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
      Glenville High School
      650 E. 113th Street
      Cleveland, Ohio 44103
      Email Wraparound Specialist, Brittney Smith for more information: 
      Brittney.Smith@clevelandmetroschools.org
    • Clean Slate: Removing Barriers to Employment with Record Sealing (Attorneys Only)
      Friday, April 5, 2019
      1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
      Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
      1375 E. 9th Street, 2nd Floor,
      Cleveland, Ohio 44114
      2 CLE credits approved (and FREE) for Licensed Attorneys.
      Register here
    • 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 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