TruthToTell Monday, March 17: RESTORING VOTING RIGHTS and Other Bills to Ease Re-entry - AUDIO Podcast HERE

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On-air date: 
Mon, 03/17/2014
Listen to or download this episode here: 

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Second Chance Day on the Hill

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Advocates for easing the re-entry of felons who have served their prison time brought some of us up short with this little tidbit earlier in March:

Brandishing signs and buttonholing lawmakers, they reminded legislators and civilians alike with their exhibit that “We Are All Criminals.” Their flyer reads:

“We Are All Criminals looks at those of us with criminal histories but no record; in other words –those of us who have had the luxury to forget our misdeeds.

Doctors and lawyers, social workers and students, retailers and retirees tell stories of crimes they got away with, and consider how different their lives would have been had they been caught. The stories are of youth, boredom, intoxication, and porta potties.

They are about luck, class, and privilege. They are humorous, humiliating, and humbling in turn.

They are privately held memories without public stigma; they are criminal histories without criminal records.”

At least 25% of Minnesotans have a criminal record.

This was the first salvo in this year’s battle with ignorance and preconceptions the ubiquitous Second Chance Coalition has launched for the umpteenth session to reverse the economic disaster and counterproductive haunting of their past former inmates experience after leaving incarceration:

  • The loss of – or delay in – restoring their voting rights.
  • The dragging albatross of a criminal record often preventing adequate housing and job opportunities.

Sealing criminal records by petition and expunging juvenile records altogether is another goal. (Last year, an act to “ban the box” on employment applications was passed to prevent employers from prejudging an applicant’s qualifications based solely on his or her criminal record.)

There are other issues such as taxpayer-funded drug testing of general assistance recipients and other poverty-stricken populations; the elimination of mandatory sentencing; and the unbalanced use of school suspensions and their disparate impact on communities of color.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL returns to one the topics are started covering many years ago, including a Community Connections special we aired last year at this time – second chances for former felons. Returning to our studio are the durable co-chairs of the Second Chance Coalition:

On-air guests: 

SARAH CATHERINE WALKER – Lobbyist at Hill Capitol Strategies, Co-Chair, Second Chance Coalition; President, Coalition for Impartial Justice

MARK HAASE – Vice President, Projects and Operations, Council on Crime & Justice; Co-Chair, Second Chance Coalition