Collateral Sanctions Reform is here

The long awaited collateral sanctions reform bill was introduced to the Ohio General Assembly on Tuesday April 24, 2012 by Representatives McGregor and Heard.  Sponsor testimony was delivered on Wednesday April 25th.  A campanion bill was introduced in the Senate on April 26, SB 337.  Both bills passed with wide bi-partisan support in late May 2012.  HB 524 passed in the House 99-1 and SB 337 passed in the Senate 27-4.  The legislation was enacted on June 26, 2012 when Governor Kasich signed SB 337 into law. Read about it in our newsletter - http://eepurl.com/maqPb

 

Here is a summary of the key provisions of the legislation:

 

Over the past several months a bipartisan group, including the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, the Ohio Department of Youth Services, the Governor’s office, legislators, stakeholders and various interested parties, have attended forums across the state to discuss Ohio’s outdated criminal statutes and come up with common-sense public policy ideas that would be helpful to ex-offenders’ abilities to obtain jobs, to become tax payers, not tax burdens. This bill is a result of the moderate approach taken at these forums and reflects the suggestions from the workgroups.

 

• Makes a number of common sense reforms such as allowing ex-offenders to become licensed in making eye glasses or hearing aids. Currently a person who has been incarcerated cannot legally become licensed in making eye glasses, even though we train female prisoners this skill at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

 

• Prohibits the preclusion of individuals from obtaining or renewing certain licenses, certificates, or permits due to any past criminal history unless the individual had committed a crime of moral turpitude or a disqualifying offense or a crime with a direct nexus to the employment opportunity.

o With the exception of allowing licensing boards the discretion of denying licensure for 3 years after a felony, and 1 year after a misdemeanor or granting a conditional license of 1 year.

 

o Also allows for ex-offenders to have the ability to become licensed in other fields including construction, and cosmetology.

• Creates Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) which relieves, on a limited basis, collateral sanctions imposed by law. The CQE is aimed at those individuals living in the community who have previous felony convictions and/or have served a term of imprisonment. This lifts the automatic bar of a collateral sanction, leaving an employer free to consider on a case by case basis whether it is appropriate to grant or deny a job opportunity, free from being held liable.


o Former ex-offenders can obtain a CQE through a common pleas judge with the help of a Justice Reinvestment Officers of DRC or their own attorney.
o This protects employers, who would hire a formerly incarcerated person, from being held liable for negligent hiring.


o A person can petition to obtain a CQE one year after the completion of their felony conviction or 6 months after the completion of their misdemeanor conviction.

• Addresses some of the driver’s license inaccuracies that often lead people to having their license suspended or being put into jail for failure to pay non-moving violations.

 

• Limits BCI’s release of juvenile records to aggravated murder, murder, and any sex offense for which the SORN registry is mandatory.

o Rather than their current release policies of giving noting juvenile misdemeanors

• Modifies Child Support policies to permit Child Support Enforcement Agencies to utilize actual earning potential for an individual reentering society with a conviction based upon their new limited earning capabilities.

o Previously, the earnings of a person prior to conviction were used to calculate payments creating an unrealistic expectation for those just released from prison.

• Expands eligibility for the sealing of records to allow first time misdemeanor and felony convictions charged in separate indictments to each have one opportunity for sealing, rather than a single opportunity for either a misdemeanor or a felony. It also allows for the sealing of two misdemeanors so long as they are not the same offense.

 

• Allows judges the discretion to seal non support convictions if the offender is current in their child support obligations.

 

• Increases, from 18 to 21, the age at which certain offenders may be held in places not authorized for the confinement of children.

 

• Increases the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over certain specified cases solely for the purpose of detaining a person while the person’s case is heard in adult court.

 

• Reduces the penalty for driving under suspension if the suspension was imposed as part of the penalty for certain violations that don’t directly involve the operation of a motor vehicle.

 

• Defines the terms “moral turpitude” and “disqualifying offenses” as applied to certain employment.

 

• These provisions lifting employment barriers in certain licensing occupations only affect non-violent and non-sexual related crimes.

 

• These provisions and the removal of collateral sanctions would not apply when a direct nexus exists between the offense and the employment opportunity.

o  For example, this bill would not eliminate barriers to employment for someone convicted of check fraud, who then applies for a job at a bank.

Sign our Petition to Support HB 524 & SB 337

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