Help for ex-offenders
Recent nationwide protests over racism and police brutality have heightened awareness of the unequal application of "justice" in America. We have a long and horrific history of post-Civil War inequities toward Black communities, from slave patrols and Black codes, to the KKK, Jim Crow, "three strikes" sentencing rules and stop-and-frisk policies. All of this led to mass criminalization and incarceration of our African-American brothers and sisters, what has been a truly shameful era in U.S. history.
The First Step Act, signed into law in December 2019, is the first federal legislation in decades to seriously address criminal justice reform. While this is a move in the right direction, a major challenge for those with criminal records is gainful employment. We know from experience that the doors to well-paying jobs open when criminal records disappear.
Coalition Legal is a program whose sole mission is to help ex-offenders, free, remove criminal records through sealing or expungement. The coalition's website features personal stories by individuals whose lives were changed by having their records sealed, and an application form to obtain services.
Reparations for injustices suffered by those in our African-American community can come in many forms. Addressing inequities imposed upon them by our justice system is a powerful way to restore dignity and self-empowerment. Coalition Legal is a small, but important step in addressing such inequities.