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Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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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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Nov 02 2015

RELEASE: Harrell’s Statement on Obama’s “Ban the Box” Announcement

SEATTLE – Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s “Ban the Box” announcement today:

“I applaud President Obama’s order to ‘ban the box’ during the hiring process for federal government employees. Statements like, ‘felons need not apply’ on job applications have been barriers for employment and opportunity for millions in this country seeking re-entry into society. Research also points to racial bias and inequality for many minorities.

“Seattle has been at the forefront of reforming the criminal justice system and working to address the root causes of institutional practices that leads to recidivism. We worked with the community and Seattle’s ‘ban the box’ law took effect November 1, 2013. 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.

“The work continues and in the upcoming months we will pursue a new certificate program to 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. The Certificate for Restoration of Opportunity Program (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 that they meet all the terms of their sentence. A CROP will assist a person successfully re-enter society.

“Additionally, for the 2016 budget, I am seeking $50,000 to conduct fair employment bias testing. The employment testing will seek to determine if employment opportunities are influenced by a person’s perceived race, accent, sexual orientation or other protected characteristics. Above all, I am most proud of the opportunity that we will afford people to rebuild their lives.”

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Sep 21 2015

Seattle Police receive $600,000 federal grant for body cameras

SEATTLE (Sept. 21, 2015) – Today, the United Stated Department of Justice (DOJ) awarded the Seattle Police Department (SPD) a $600,000 grant to implement an expanded body-worn camera program.
“Today’s announcement by the Justice Department is a huge boost to the Seattle Police Department’s efforts to improve community policing and strengthen accountability,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We know body cameras reduce the number of complaints against officers and reduce the use of force by police. I am proud of Seattle’s continued leadership as a national model for police reform.”
Earlier this year, SPD conducted its own six-month pilot of body-worn camera equipment and made some of the recorded footage available to the public on a YouTube channel. Seattle police also participated in the White House Police Data Initiative as part of an overall effort to enhance transparency and accountability in law enforcement.
In the coming months, the department will further develop the policies and protocols for the cameras with a broad range of community stakeholders, including Seattle Police Officers Guild, the Department of Justice, the federal monitor, the Community Police Commission and others.

“Body-worn video technology is incredibly important to our communities and our officers,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We are grateful for this assistance from the Department of Justice, and are excited to continue our work enhancing transparency, accountability, and community trust.”

“I have said this from day one that body cameras are a game changer for police accountability, public safety, and as a training tool to improve policing performance,” said Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “Police accountability advocates such as Campaign Zero, Seattle legislative districts and community leaders have asked for body cameras and this is great news. On behalf of the Council, I thank President Obama and his administration for allocating this funding. We will work towards complete funding in the upcoming budget process. Without question, our work continues building stronger community ties but it starts with clear impartial video evidence of police and civilian interactions. Body camera data from other police departments have seen use of force reduced by 60 percent.”

In today’s round of grant announcements, DOJ awarded $23.2 million to 73 local and tribal agencies in 32 states to expand the use of body-worn cameras and explore their impact. The grants, which require a 50/50 in-kind or cash match, can be used to purchase equipment and require that applicants establish a strong implementation plan and a robust training policy before purchasing cameras. The long term costs associated with storing this information will be the financial responsibility of each local agency.
For additional information from the Department of Justice, visit: http://www.bja.gov/bwc/pdfs/BWCPIP-Award-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

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Sep 15 2015

Councilmember Harrell to Pursue Proposal Allowing Formerly Incarcerated People Access to Vocational Jobs

SEATTLE – Councilmember Bruce Harrell will introduce a draft resolution Wednesday to pursue a new certificate program to 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. The Certificate for Restoration of Opportunity Program (CROP), which is being pursued by Councilmember Harrell, 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 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.

Legislation to enact the CROP program statewide was introduced during the 2015 State Legislative session. House Representative Brady Walkinshaw was successful in unanimously passing HB 1553 out of the House, but the bill did not pass out of the Senate Committee. The bill will be re-introduced in 2016.

WHAT:
Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity discussion at the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee

WHEN:
Wednesday, September 16
2:00 p.m.

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

WHO:
Councilmembers
Mayor’s Office
Columbia Legal Services

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Aug 12 2015

New tool created to track enforcement of minimum wage, paid sick leave, job assistance, and wage theft laws

SEATTLE – Councilmember Bruce Harrell will introduce a draft resolution Wednesday to pursue a new certificate program to 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. The Certificate for Restoration of Opportunity Program (CROP), which is being pursued by Councilmember Harrell, 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 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.

Legislation to enact the CROP program statewide was introduced during the 2015 State Legislative session. House Representative Brady Walkinshaw was successful in unanimously passing HB 1553 out of the House, but the bill did not pass out of the Senate Committee. The bill will be re-introduced in 2016.

WHAT:
Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity discussion at the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee

WHEN:
Wednesday, September 16
2:00 p.m.

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

WHO:
Councilmembers
Mayor’s Office
Columbia Legal Services

# # #

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