Advocacy

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We believe in improving the quality of life in our communities by advocating for reform of criminal justice policy that relies so heavily on prisons to address social problems.

We support an end to mandatory sentences, increasing community-based programs' presence in correctional institutions, and increased opportunities that assist individuals to recover from incarceration and reduce recidivism.

CORI Reform

CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) refers to the Massachusetts policy of keeping a record of every criminal court appearance in a Massachusetts state or federal court. In addition to convictions, case dismissals and findings of ‘not guilty’ are included in a person’s CORI.

People with CORIs face extreme difficulty in obtaining housing, jobs, loans, and other necessities vital to their reintegration with society. Until recently, a felony remained on a person’s CORI for 15 years and a misdemeanor for 10 years; further, any citation during that period would delay the sealing of the record by another 15/10 years. Without reasonable access to housing or jobs, many people with CORIs fall back into the prison system.

In May 2010, the Massachusetts House approved bill S.2220 also known as the CORI reform bill by a 138-17 vote. This reduces the amount of time until records are sealed to 10 years for a felony and 5 for a misdemeanor. A CORI will only include convictions. The measure also prohibits job applications from including a question about a candidate’s criminal record (employers may still ask during interviews); prior to this, asking the question “Do you have a criminal record?” in effect destroyed former offenders’ chances of finding work.

This is a great victory for all the associations in favor of CORI reform, like Boston Workers Alliance, The Boston Foundation, Neighbor to Neighbor, and Span Inc.

We know all too well what this means for our clients who want to rejoin the workforce. Massachusetts police officers also supported the reform bill, as they understand first-hand that without a job, a former offender’s options are severely limited, and recidivism is often the result.

Even with the passage of CORI reform, Span’s work to break the cycle of incarceration by providing comprehensive discharge and transitional services is crucial to offenders and communities in Massachusetts. For more information on Span’s programs, see What We Do.

For more information on Span's programs, see Our Services.

Links to Other Advocacy Websites

Boston Worker’s Alliance: for assistance with CORI reform, employment issues for ex-offenders, Prisoners’ Legal Services. Boston Worker’s Alliance (BWA) is a community organization formed on September 22, 2005 at the 12th Baptist Church in Roxbury by unemployed and underemployed workers fighting for equal employment rights. Their main goal is to put an end to CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) discrimination and to find a way to end joblessness in the community. Thus, their second goal is to form a BWA temp agency.

Prisoners’ Legal Services (formerly MCLS) was established in 1972 to provide civil legal services to people in Massachusetts prisons and jails. For further information, please see the Partners and Affiliated Agencies page.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) was created in 1917 during World War I by the Quakers. In 1947, the AFSC received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Quakers worldwide. Their aim is to foster understanding and reconciliation, promote economic development and food security. They seek to understand and address the root causes of poverty, injustice and war. The AFCS works to relieve and prevent suffering through both immediate aid and long-term development, and seeks to serve the needs of people on all sides of violent strife.

The American Friends Service Committee’s Criminal Justice Program touches a wide range of issues. Transforming the criminal justice systems by promoting community-based systems of criminal justice that encourage healing, reconciliation, and righting the harm done by the perpetrators of crime is a major goal. The American Friends Service Committee is developing alternatives to current criminal justice practices around the world.

Especially friendly to men and women coming out of incarceration, Victory Programs is a Boston-based non-profit organization founded in 1975 providing housing and innovative, comprehensive direct care services to individuals and families with special needs. Most of their clients are people who are homeless or suffering from mental illness and other chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and drug disorders.

Victory Programs offers 18 innovative and unique programs located throughout the Boston area, including an urban farm connected to shelters for families, housing technical assistance programs along the East Coast, a safe haven for men dealing with alcoholism, and shelter for homeless women and their children. Over the years, our programs have helped thousands of people to move from a desperate situation to a safe home and stable life.

The Crime and Justice Institute (CJI), a division of Community Resources for Justice, Inc. in Boston is a non-profit agency that provides consulting, non-partisan policy analysis, and research services to increase public safety in communities throughout the country. It works with group of practitioners and policymakers, correction officials, police, courts, political and community leaders. CJI’s goal is to make criminal and juvenile justice systems more efficient and cost effective.

Coming Home Directory: A directory of offender reentry services in the greater Boston area, updated regularly and researched for accuracy.