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Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for December, 2015

Dec 07 2015

Council Forms Prisoner and Community Corrections Re-entry Work Group

SEATTLE – Council unanimously approved Resolution 31637 today, which calls on City departments to convene a prisoner and community corrections re-entry work group to coordinate and strengthen the City’s efforts to assist re-entry. Councilmember Bruce Harrell sponsored the resolution to help formerly-incarcerated people gain access to jobs once they’ve paid their debt to society. The work group will identify opportunities for more effective coordination with other criminal justice agencies and develop a set of additional recommendations the City can implement to facilitate prisoner re-entry and remove unnecessary barriers to employment and housing.

The Resolution also re-affirms the City’s support for the Certificate for Restoration of Opportunity Program (CROP). CROP will help individuals with criminal histories gain access to jobs that require a vocational license. Currently, a person with a criminal record cannot attain jobs in more than 90 career paths that require vocational licenses, including barbers, commercial fishers, or dental hygienists. CROP would allow an individual to file for a civil motion certifying that the required time had passed, without any new arrests or convictions, and had met all the terms of their sentence. Councilmember Harrell intends to pursue creation of a Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity if the State Legislature does not pass one in the upcoming legislative session.

In 2015 approximately 2.2 million people are incarcerated nationally—a 500% increase in the last 30 years. Locally, 16,675 adults were incarcerated in Washington State prisons and almost 12,618 people per day are placed in local jails with 2,800 being jailed in King County. In 2014 about 20 percent of the almost 8,000 individuals released from Washington State Department of Corrections were released in King County. People of color are disproportionately represented among those released from jail in King County; a 2003 reentry study demonstrated that while African-Americans were only six percent of King County’s population, 41 percent of people released from DOC were African-Americans, and while Latinos were only six percent of King County’s population, 18 percent of people released from DOC were Latinos.

“We must set a new course to address the failed policies from mass incarceration,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, primary sponsor of the legislation. “The two biggest barriers for individuals re-entering society are jobs and housing. Collectively, we have failed on these two fronts and as a result, the cycle of re-incarceration often repeats itself. The failure to help these individuals has rippled through our society, impacting families, our schools, public safety, and our community. Council will work with our regional partners and lead on this effort in 2016.”

Council added $136,000 in the 2016 budget to support work on Zero Detention and the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity Program.

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Dec 02 2015

Councilmember Harrell to Consider Labor Standards Bill; Vote on Resolution Supporting Job Access for People with Criminal Records

SEATTLE – Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, chaired by Councilmember Bruce Harrell, will consider a bill tomorrow relating to improving labor standards for Seattle workers, and vote on a resolution supporting efforts to help individuals with criminal histories gain access to jobs that require a vocational license.

The committee will review the labor standards proposal, which would address violations of programs like wage theft, paid sick and safe time, $15 minimum wage and job assistance (“ban the box”). The bill would provide remedies for victims of labor violations, allows anonymity for worker complaints, and establishes a private right of action, which would allow employees to sue employers for violations.

The committee will vote on a resolution supporting the Certificate for Restoration of Opportunity Program (CROP). Currently, a person with a criminal record cannot attain jobs in more than 90 career paths that require vocational licenses, including barbers, commercial fishers, or dental hygienists. CROP would allow an individual to file for a civil motion certifying that the required time had passed, without any new arrests or convictions, and had met all the terms of their sentence. The resolution also requests that the Mayor convene a Prisoner and Community Corrections Re-entry Work Group to coordinate and strengthen the City’s efforts to assist prisoner re-entry.

The CROP proposal expands on Council’s efforts to improve public safety and access to jobs. Data from the 2013 Job Assistance “Ban the box” Legislation has demonstrated laws helping individuals gain access to jobs benefits Seattle’s economy and reduces recidivism.

WHAT:
Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee discussion on Labor Standards proposal; vote on resolution in support of Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity legislation

WHEN:
Wednesday, December 2
2:00 p.m.

WHERE:
Council Chambers, 2nd floor
Seattle City Hall
600 Fourth Ave., Seattle 98104

WHO:
Councilmembers
Dylan Orr, Office of Labor Standards
David Mendoza, Office of the Mayor
Columbia Legal Services

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