Across the nation, April 24 to 30th marked National Reentry Week, a week dedicated to helping ex-offenders re-enter the world outside of prison.
Ex-Offenders Have Their Reentry Week
Activities geared towards connecting ex-offenders with housing, legal aid, and community-based sources were planned across all 50 states.
While the U.S. is only 5 percent of the global population, we have 25 percent of the world’s prison population. Every year mass incarceration costs the government $80 billion, making it the biggest business in the United States. That $80 billion is 3-4 times more than we spend on education.
One of the hardest things facing people going through the prison system is rehabilitation. Ex-offenders often refer to the stigma associated with have a conviction on their record as “The Scarlet F.” And the barriers associated with the stigma are far reaching – including having to mark the criminal felon box on job applications and the inability to even obtain a driver’s license or a basic bank loan. These are things that we so often take for granted, but without them, it makes being part of society almost impossible.
As a result, 75 percent of former inmates wind up back in prison.
This is why National Reentry Week is such an important one. During the Reentry Conference that was hosted in April, Mark Holden, a prisoner reentry activist and Koch Industries representative expressed, “Jobs are the best way to stop a bullet.” And Koch Industries is just one company that offers employment to ex-offenders as part of their corporate model. As Holden expressed, Koch Industries have found that their previously incarcerated employees are “humble, hardworking, and hungry.”
Restrictions Ex-Offenders Face on Reentry
Time and time again, ex-offenders are denied the basic necessities we all take for granted. For example, an e-offender is not even able to obtain an ID card. As we all know, every single time we apply for anything – rent, a bank account, employment, we are asked to show identification. The inability to obtain an ID card often means heading right back to jail. This means that while a person might get out of jail, they are never truly out of the prison system and can never escape being a “prisoner.”
Good News from Conference for Reentry
Luckily, some things are changing. Across the nation, 34 states have implemented progressive criminal reform legislation. Those states have seen decreases in violent crime rates and statistically safer communities. Additionally, there was a decreased need for federal money spent on incarceration and communities are thriving.
In Los Angeles, a close to $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development might be able to help LA-area ex-offenders get jobs.
The program focuses on ex-offenders ages 25 and younger and aims to help them find housing, apply for jobs and obtaining driver’s licenses, and all they have to do is take the initiative.
As DOJ Director of Access to Justice Lisa Foster explained, “All of us make mistakes. What we know about young people is that they make lots of mistakes.”
Reentry and Moving Forward After Jail Time
In California, there are many who, because of criminal mistakes they made years ago, can’t get a job, move on with their lives, or escape damaged reputations, even though they’ve served their time. For some people, one avenue of the record-clearing process, known as a California Certificate of Rehabilitation is the answer. Though it doesn’t erase an individual’s criminal record, it is a court order that states that an individual’s criminal history is a thing of the past. This Certificate is a declaration by the state telling society that the former criminal has moved on to become an honest, upstanding “rehabilitated” member of the community.
Reentry and California Certificate of Rehabilitation
A California Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court finding that can go a long way in helping you secure better employment prospects and professional licensing. In some instances, it may also end sex offender registration requirements.
California Penal Code sections 4852.01 – 4852.21 regulate how and to whom these Certificates may be issued.
Obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation
In order to obtain a Certificate of Rehabilitation, a petition must be filed with the California Superior Court. The basic eligibility requirement is a “satisfactory period of rehabilitation,” which is a specified length of time you must be free from criminal activity. This period includes the five years that you were a California resident immediately prior to filing for your Certificate plus an additional two to five years depending on the specific crime you were convicted of. Consultation with a qualified criminal attorney will determine if you’ve met the time requirements as well as providing assistance in filing the petition which includes application forms, letters of character, and other relevant documents.
Upon receipt of the petition, the court will set a hearing date. If possible, meet with the agency that prosecuted you before the hearing so that you may try to gain their support. On average, it takes about 120 days from the time the motion is filed to the date of the hearing, although in can vary from county to county. At the hearing, you must present the most favorable evidence to convince the judge to grant your Certificate of Rehabilitation. The judge will almost always require that you personally attend the hearing.
Unlike a motion to seal and destroy arrest records, a Certificate of Rehabilitation applies to actual criminal convictions, not just arrests. Such a certificate does not erase the past, but it will restore some of the civil rights lost upon conviction. If granted, your Certificate of Rehabilitation becomes an automatic application for a Governor’s Pardon, the ultimate symbol of rehabilitation.
Why Work with a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Criminal defense attorneys are able to defend you in a way that you potentially could not. They have experience and a familiarity with the law to be able to forge the best criminal defense for you. Prior to filing, a district attorney’s office must consider whether to file the case as a felony or a misdemeanor. Often times, a criminal defense attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to reduce or even eliminate vandalism charges before they’ve even been filed. If charges are filed, a criminal defense attorney will be able to argue for community service and graffiti cleanup duty or house arrest rather than a jail sentence.
Criminal Defense Attorneys
Criminal defense attorneys defend adults, juveniles, professionals, college students, military personnel, public employees, and anyone else who faces serious charges in state or federal court. Some of the charges we handle include:
- Violent crimes from simple assault or weapons offenses to gang crimes, armed robbery, kidnapping or homicide
- Sex offenses such as sexual assault, statutory rape or online solicitation of a minor
- DUI, including implied consent, underage drunk driving violations, DUI and felony DUI
- Drug crimes, including drug investigation, drug possession, distribution, cultivation, manufacturing and trafficking
- Domestic violence, including spousal abuse or elder abuse
- Juvenile defense, including misdemeanor property crimes, high school or college student crimes and serious felonies
- Serious traffic violations such as reckless driving or driving without a license
- Probation or parole problems, involving new charges or technical violations
- Theft offenses, including felony or misdemeanor charges of larceny, robbery, grand theft, shoplifting, grand theft auto or burglary
- Credit card fraud, including bank fraud, forgery or identity theft
- White collar crimes, including money laundering, health care fraud, mortgage fraud, bank fraud embezzlement and Internet crimes
- Federal crimes, including federal drug charges and federal fraud and white collar crimes charges
Working with the Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman
If you have been arrested for any crime, you need to immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer like the ones at the Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman. Based in Los Angeles, California, we defend clients against misdemeanor and felony crimes including sexual assault, drug possession, DUI, vandalism, and theft. Whether you are facing criminal charges, we are ready to provide the strong defense you require.
Speak to a Los Angeles Criminal Law Attorney Today
There are many criminal defense firms you may choose to handle your case. Why hire us?
- Our defense team includes a former prosecutor
- We offer flat fees in many criminal cases
- We have defended hundreds of clients throughout California against criminal charges ranging from criminal traffic offenses to murder charges
- We offer skilled trial attorneys
- We are highly adept at plea negotiations because we are creative and proactive
- We care. Our defense attorneys chose criminal law as their focus because they want to make a positive difference in the lives of people whose freedom, record and rights are at risk
For immediate assistance, contact one of our Los Angeles attorneys at 213-514-8324 or contact us by e-mail.