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Monday, January 21, 2019

Woman gets second chance with pardon


Woman gets second chance with pardon
Monica An­drade served 16 months in prison starting in 2002, fol­lowed by three years on parole.

Her crime? Man­u­fac­tur­ing a controlled sub­stance for sale, and child endangerment. More specifically, An­dra­de manufactured meth­am­phet­amine while her 13-year-old son was home.

Andrade completed her sentence and set out to change her life. She went to AV-East Kern Second Chance for help.

Michelle Egberts, an ex-felon herself, is founder and executive director of Sec­ond Chance. She ran “ex­pungement” workshops to help ex-felons clear their rec­ords. The two-hour work­shops are packed with information including the barriers people face as they work to clear their record.

“She educates on all the records that are out there,” Andrade said.

Expungement is a court-ordered process that allows an offender to seal or erase the legal record of an arrest or criminal conviction in the eyes of the law.

An individual is eligible for expungement if he or she committed a felony or misdemeanor and was not incarcerated in state prison, has fulfilled his or her probation, and was not convicted of an ineligible crime such as rape or child sexual abuse.

Andrade, 50, served time in prison, so she was not eligible to have her record expunged. But she was eligible for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.

A Certificate of Re­hab­il­itation is available only for people who have gone to prison. They can get it after a certain amount of time if they meet the criteria. If granted, the doc­ument restores some of the rights of citizenship that were forfeited as a result of a felony con­vic­tion. It also acts as an aut­o­matic application and rec­om­mendation for a pardon from the governor.

Andrade attended four or five of Egberts’ work­shops to begin work on get­ting her Certificate of Re­hab­ilitation. She re­ceived the document in December 2016.

“There is an 11-page ques­tionnaire just from the courts, from the DA’s office, that needs to be addressed, and if it’s not addressed cor­rect­ly you’re not going to get your COR,” Egberts said.

The application package includes character refer­en­ces from at least four peop­le who know you went to prison and have turned your life around. Andrade had at least 10 letters of rec­om­mendation. Andrade submitted her application for the pardon, including another seven pages of ques­tions, in August 2017.

Former California Gov. Jerry Brown signed An­drade’s pardon on Nov. 21.

“She’s our first pardon,” Egberts said.

Egberts estimated Sec­ond Chance has helped more than 2,000 people ex­punge their records since 2012.

“Everybody is eligible so I don’t discriminate,” Eg­berts said

However, she noted in­div­iduals who committed crimes such as murder, rape, or kidnapping are not eligible for a certificate of rehabilitation.

Andrade visited Egberts’ Mojave home to talk about her pardon and how she is working toward creating a bet­ter life for herself and her family.

Andrade’s 13-year-old son, Carlos Boquin, is now 30.

“He is my idol because he never gave up on me,” An­drade said.

Boquin continues to help his mother and her two youngest children, his sis­ters, after Andrade’s hus­band was deported back to Guatemala six years ago. She lives with Boquin and his family.

“It was either fall back and go back to my bad ways and repeat history again, or this time, my son said, ‘Mom, I’ll watch the kids, you go to school,’ ” An­dra­de said.

Andrade went to school. She received an associate of arts degree in 2014. She received a bachelor’s de­gree in criminal justice from California State Uni­ver­sity, Bakersfield in 2017.

She is working on her master’s degree in crim­in­al justice at Grand Canyon University. Andrade hopes to become a probation officer in the juvenile div­is­ion for the Los Angeles De­partment of Probation some­day. Her ultimate goal is law school.

“I’ve been through it; I’ve experienced it. So that now I can understand and I can relate, so that if anyone wants to talk to me I can be there for them, “ Andrade said. “That’s my goal — is to be there for someone else, to help someone else.”

Andrade got involved with meth because of a weight problem.

She weighed nearly 300 pounds at one point and was in abusive marriage. She started losing weight with the assistance of a doc­tor who prescribed fen­flur­mine-phentermine, or fen-phen, an anti-obesity treat­ment later found to cause potential fatal heart prob­lems that led to its with­drawal from the mar­ket.

Andrade met drug traf­fick­ers through her for­mer sec­urity job. They in­tro­duced her to meth to help her lose weight. The meth gave Andrade energy that kept her busy cleaning her house and helped keep the weight off. Andrade said she had children and could not go to the gym.

One thing led to another and Andrade eventually start­ed to cook her own meth. That eventually led to prison.

Andrade has seven chil­dren, The two oldest are boys and the rest are girls. At one point her five old­est children were taken away from her. All are now adults. Andrade has seven grand­children.

Andrade did not expect to get her pardon as soon as she did.

“It couldn’t come at a bet­ter time,” Andrade said.

After five years renting the same home, Andrade and her family face evic­tion.

“I don’t make a whole lot of money; none of us do,” she said.

Andrade is concerned that although she has a gov­ernor’s pardon, po­ten­tial landlords might see her rec­ord after a background check and deny her.

The background check will show what Andrade was convicted her and her prison term, along with her Certificate of Re­hab­ilitation and her pardon.

Egberts started AV-East Kern Second Chance with her former partner, Rich­ard Macias, a retired law en­forcement officer with 25 years’ experience. Macias now serves as director em­er­itus.

“Everybody deserves to be rehabilitated,” Egberts said.

Egberts was convicted in 2004 for grand theft. Her case involved more than $100,000.

“I have not been able to fiscally pay off my res­tit­u­tion. But I have done it and more by giving back to my community.” Egberts said.

Egberts is not proud of her crimes. She spent al­most three years in prison. When she left prison, she had a four-year degree in bus­i­ness administration with an understudy in mar­keting.

“Couldn’t find a job for nothing,” Egberts said.

Egberts still has not found a job. She has not cleared her own record.

“I haven’t had time,” she said.

That is because she con­tin­ues to help other felons. She no longer has a place to conduct the workshops, so she works from home. She walked across the room and picked up a package she received in the mail re­cently.

“There’s 13 cases in it from Long Beach,” Egberts said.

They do not make any money from Second Chance. Any money they do get goes toward supplies such as postage and ink.

“We’re looking for a home,” Egberts said.


Woman gets second chance with pardon

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Eric Mayo

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Juvenile offender wants Job Search Advice

Juvenile offender wants Job Search Advice

 
Juvenile offender wants Job Search Advice
I recently was hired at a nursing home and was railed through all the pre employment paper work everyone goes threw these days. I had a drug test, back ground check and had to submit my fingerprints. Well I got a call that something was found in my back ground that has to be looked into further. All they information I was given was that the incident occurred in 2003 making me 16 and I of course knew right away what it was. I was charged with a misdemeanor and did 1 year probation. I like many other people had it seal away because I was a juvenile. Can they not hire me because of this? This is the only thing I have ever done in my entire life. I have never been arrested nor even gotten pulled over. My adult record is clean.


Juvenile offender wants Job Search Advice


Hello,

I'm not sure where you live but most states seal juvenile records from the public. In most cases they are only visible to law enforcement, the court system and government agencies. The one instance that it would not be sealed is the case of a sexual offense. If that is not your situation, you should seek legal advice as to why your offense is visible.

Many ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs often need legal advice. I suggest your local legal aid office.

I hope this helps.


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Juvenile offender wants Job Search Advice

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ex-offender may need help to get a job.

Ex-offender may need help to get a job


 Ex-offender may need help to get a job
Hello,

I came across your blog while looking for work. First, I would like to say how much appreciate your time and efforts in providing helpful information for ex-offenders. I have read through most of the posts and your advice has given me some hope in finding work.

I was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of burglary. This occurred over 10 years ago. I didn't serve any jail time and was given 3 years of probation. Since then I went back to school, received a bachelor's degree,started my own business, and plan to go back to pursue a Master's degree.

I want to work in a youth care facility, specifically working with at-risk youth and provide counseling, mentoring, and outreach. However, if a facility is licensed by the state, live-scan is a requirement. I had the misdemeanor charge expunged, but I know that the charge will still be on record (which I had expunged). I actually had an interview for a facility and when asked about my criminal background, I was honest with that person. However, she could not hire me because of the record. She told me that I could apply for an exemption to work in the facility.

My question/concern is that from research on receiving an exemption, I would have to have the particular facility send a letter/request to the Licensing board before I can fill out the appropriate paperwork to get this exemption. Is it common for any facility to honor this request? How I interpret this is that this facility would have to support you and go out of their way so they can hire you. My frustration is that any place is going to hire someone else that has a clean background over someone like myself. So I am wondering if you have had

any experience with exemptions or clearances through the DOJ/LIvescan? Do you think it is possible for ex-offenders to get jobs in this field? I will jump through hoops and get what is needed to get hired but is it a lost cause and doing all of this for nothing?

I am sorry for the lengthy email. I've spent many months researching this subject. I really could not find much information in regards to other people's experience with this particular subject. It has been very discouraging. I would appreciate any insight you might have. Thank you for your time.


Sincerely,

G


Ex-offender may need help to get a job



Hello G,

 Ex-offender may need help to get a jobI guess it couldn't hurt to apply for the exemption and the facility definitely would have to put some added effort into it. I want everyone to understand that expungement and sealing of records does not erase them. They simply are hidden from the public. The charge and subsequent conviction will always be visible to the court system, law enforcement and government agencies.

I know of ex-offenders and felons having similar jobs. The fact that you were informed about applying for exemption should give you hope if you really want this jobs. As I tell all ex-offenders and felons, they should apply for all jobs they believe they qualify for.

If this doesn't work out, you can always contact the United Way office in your area. They will be able to put you in contact with advocates and other organizations that provide services for ex-offenders and felons.

I hope this helps.

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  Ex-offender may need help to get a job.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Jobs that hire Sex Offenders

Jobs that hire Sex Offenders


Jobs that hire Sex Offenders
Just the thought of the term "Sex Offender" brings to mind the worst crimes imaginable.  There are varying degrees of sex-offenses but they are all looked at by the average person as the worst case.  For example, I had a student many years ago who was 15 at the time.  He had gotten his fourteen year old girlfriend pregnant.  The girl's family decided to terminate the pregnancy.  The boy's DNA was tested against the fetal tissue and he was arrested, convicted and be came what is known as a sex offender.  In my state, this kid has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.  By being registered, he has to report to the state police his address, place of employment and must be photographed every year for the state sex offender registry which includes him on a website for the world to see.  For the rest of his life, he will be listed on this website as having sex with an underage female regardless of the circumstance.


Jobs that hire Sex Offenders



Often the same reaction that the sex-offender gets from the public at large is the same reaction that the average employers have.  So what a person with a sex offense do to earn a living?  I have to admit, the students that post the biggest challenge in terms of getting hired are the convicted sex offenders.  The very first suggestion I make is to begin to look for jobs that have limited contact with other people.  Not that they are apt to harm others but employers may be more willing to hire someone with a sex offense who would be in no way be a liability.

I have been helping ex-offenders and felons get jobs for many years and in my experience, sex offenders are more like likely to get hired in the following areas:

Warehousing

Construction

Building Trades

Animal Shelters

Temporary Agencies

Janitorial Services

Automotive Services

Assembly/Manufacturing

Trucking


As I often suggest to all ex-offenders and felons looking for jobs, that smaller businesses are more likely to hire those with criminal records.  Often you will get a chance to speak directly with the business owner or the person who makes hiring decisions.

When applying to small businesses, you will find that they use generic applications that you may find at your local office supply store.  On these applications, you may find the standard question "Have you been convicted of a crime.............?"  I commonly urge sex offenders to leave the question blank.  Hopefully, the person who gets the application will overlook this and you can get an interview.  If the question comes up on the interview, don't spend a lot of time answering or explaining.  Offer a brief explanation that may begin with something like this, "I'm glad you asked because I want you to feel comfortable about hiring me..........."

You may also want to go check with your local United Way office.  The United Way works with many agencies that assists people with all types of situations.  Your local office may have resources or contacts to resources that can assist someone in your situation.

Another option is to speak to your parole or probation officer.  The PO may know of employers who have hired registered sex offenders. 

Finding a job as a sex offender will not be easy but there are employers who are willing to give you a chance.  Your challenge is to find them.

Best of luck.

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Jobs that hire Sex Offenders

 
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Monday, January 7, 2019

New 'clean slate' law gives some ex-offenders fresh hope on jobs, housing


New 'clean slate' law gives some ex-offenders fresh hope on jobs, housing
Pennsylvanians with old, low-level offenses on their records have fresh hope that past mistakes won’t cost them new jobs or housing.

As of Dec. 26, the state’s new Clean Slate Law allows people to petition to seal legal records in many misdemeanor cases that are more than 10 years old.

“Non-violent first-degree misdemeanors and most simple assault convictions became eligible for sealing, if the individual has not been convicted for 10 years and if no fines and costs are owed,” Sharon Dietrich, legislation director for Community Legal Services, explained in a press release.

A second phase of the law will kick in on June 28, when courts will begin automatically sealing records in eligible cases.

Here are answers to some key questions about the new law and how it works.

How is a criminal record sealed?

An ex-offender starts by completing a Petition for Order for Limited Access, a one-page form at the Self-Help Center at the county courthouse and online at www.pacourts.us/forms.

It asks for such information as the charges and the judge who imposed sentence.

If the offense happened in Lancaster County, the completed petition should be taken to the Clerk of Courts at the Lancaster County courthouse. There’s a $137 fee, but the indigent may seek a waiver.

Clerk of Courts Jacquelyn Pfursich said her office sends the petition to the judge who imposed sentencing and to the District Attorney’s Office. The district attorney has 30 days to challenge the petition, leading to a hearing before the judge. But if the district attorney doesn’t object, no hearing is needed.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said he expects that filing an objection would be rare, happening, perhaps, if facts on a petition were misrepresented.

Stedman called Clean Slate an overdue, crime-prevention measure because it promotes employment.

“If someone can have a job, they are tying themselves to the community,” he said. “That's a great indicator that the person is less likely to commit crime.”

For those who need it, free legal help is available through “My Clean Slate,” a program created by Community Legal Services in partnership with the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Volunteer attorneys will help to determine if someone is eligible for the provisions of the Clean Slate legislation, which went into effect on Dec. 26.

The program’s website is at https://clsphila.org/mycleanslatepa

What happens after the judge grants the petition?
The Clerk of Courts Office marks its record of the conviction: “Sealed. Not open for public inspection.”

The office also notifies the police department, the magisterial district judge, Lancaster County Prison and other agencies that they are prohibited from sharing the records.

How does automatic sealing work?

The new law creates an automated process to seal any arrest that didn’t result in a conviction, summary convictions after 10 years, and some misdemeanor convictions for those who've been law-abiding for 10 years.

For those cases, no petition needs to be filed starting June 28.

Instead, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts will pull eligible records from its database of all criminal records and submit them to the Pennsylvania State Police to check for possible conflicts. The ex-offender will get a letter saying the old record will no longer show up on background checks.

The state will remove eligible docket sheets from its online listing of criminal cases, but not the listing of fines and costs.

The state office will also notify the Clerk of Courts which of its records must be sealed.

Pfursich said she doesn’t know how many local cases could end up sealed. In 2018, a record 7,522 criminal cases were filed locally.

Are people taking advantage of the new law already?

About 700 people statewide petitioned to have their records sealed in the first week after the law took effect, Gov. Tom Wolf said at a news conference Wednesday.

But it's too early to predict the law's impact here, officials said.

In Lancaster County, there wasn’t immediately a noticeable increase in the number of petitions for offenses that fit within the margins of the Clean Slate Law, according to Steve Gumm, the executive director of the Lancaster Bar Association.

But the bar association is “very happy with the law's passage” and sees it as the right step for those whose old, non-violent offenses have created barriers for their lives.

Attorney Mark F. Walmer, who routinely handles cases for sealing, expunging or pardoning past offenses, said he believes the big change will be the phase of automated sealing, when petitions will no longer be needed for eligible offenses.

“The sealing statute will be good for people who have one or two very old misdemeanor offenses," he said.

Walmer noted that the responsibility for verifying that a record has been automatically sealed will fall on individuals. Under the law, only “non-controversial” offenses are automatically sealed; other cases — those that include multiple charges or have unpaid fees, for example — make it through the automated system.

“There are many different disqualifications," Walmer said. “Know exactly what is on your record, have it reviewed by an attorney.”

How big a difference will it make?

Tara Loew leads Lancaster CareerLink’s Re-Entry Services, which works with job-seekers who have criminal backgrounds.

That program serves about 600 people a year, she said, and overall, about a quarter of the people Lancaster CareerLink works with report some kind of criminal record.

Many employers ask about misdemeanor convictions, she said, and retail theft charges can be “extremely limiting” for job-seekers, “more so than felony charges in some cases.”

Loew expects the new law to have a big impact on job-seekers.

In addition to giving individuals that deserve it a second chance, she said, the law breaks down barriers to finding full-time life-sustaining employment — helping families thrive and contributing to the local economy and community safety, as someone gainfully employed is much less likely to reoffend.

She said it also helps employers who might be inclined to give applicants a second chance by taking liability away from them, because legally they’re hiring someone with a “clean slate.”

Loew also said CareerLink has recently held two free criminal record legal clinics for job-seekers, with MidPenn Legal Services, Lancaster Bar Association, Rep. Mike Sturla and the law firm Bentley, Gibson, Kopecki Smith P.C.

Attendees got a chance to have an attorney look over their records and see what their options might be, she said, and when possible were offered free continuing legal help.

The clinics were a hit, Loew said, and CareerLink now plans to offer them quarterly, capped at 30 attendees.

Can an employer ask about sealed records?

Attorney Jennifer Craighead Carey, chair of the Barley Snyder Employment Practice Group, said in an email that Clean Slate prohibits employers from requesting criminal history records that have been sealed and they may not rely on such information in making an employment decision.

The law also allows applicants questioned about sealed records to answer as if the offense did not occur, she wrote, recommending that employers use disclaimer stating that applicants “should not provide information about expunged or sealed criminal convictions.”

How do employers feel about Clean Slate?

Tom Baldrige, president and CEO of the Lancaster Chamber, said it hasn’t heard much from employers about the new law, but he believes they’re generally supportive of it.

“No one is looking for additional barriers to hiring people,” he said, noting that the current workforce need is the most acute he’s seen in 19 years with the chamber. “There are companies that are literally turning down business opportunities because they don’t have the workers, and that is relatively widespread.”

He doesn’t consider the law a game-changer for employers, he said, but does think it “gives some people who might have been hesitant to fully enter the workforce because of some past indiscretions the confidence to come back, and that’s a win-win.”

Harold G. Ford III of NetAtWork is president of Lancaster Society for Human Resource Management.

He noted that Clean Slate passed the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support and said, “I think that says really clearly this is really good for potential applicants but also for employers.”

Does it increase housing accessibility?

Ninety percent of the landlords that Tabor Community Services works with through its Community Housing Solutions program — an initiative of the Lancaster County Coalition to End Homelessness — have background checks as part of their screening process, according to organization president Michael F. McKenna and program manager Laura Willmer.

Although not the only criteria landlords are applying when screening tenants, past criminal offenses can create an additional barrier to affordable housing, McKenna said.

Tabor does not track the criminal records of those within their programs, but a significant number of those who have disclosed their background would fall under the Clean Slate law's parameters, Willmer and McKenna said.

“Some landlords will do a full background check and look for absolutely everything and others do not do one at all,” said Ann Linkey division manager at Tabor.

Usually, the criminal screenings are to find “violent and drug-related" offenses, Linkey said. The types of offenses that landlords and property managers find disqualifying vary.

“Some will look at a DUI and let it go if it was just that, others would say no,” she said.

Although her team does not track how many housing applications were rejected due to criminal background checks and what those offenses were, it does happen, Linkey said.

“It's a good thing for our clients who have those kinds of backgrounds," Linkey said of Clean Slate.

“It will complement the federal Fair Housing Act," Ray D'Agostino, chief executive officer at the Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership, said of the new law. In most cases, real estate decisions based solely on criminal records are already prohibited, he said.

This article originally published at https://lancasteronline.com  https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/new-clean-slate-law-gives-some-ex-offenders-fresh-hope/article_b70bdbf6-105b-11e9-9d7a-938b4041b090.html


New 'clean slate' law gives some ex-offenders fresh hope on jobs, housing


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Eric Mayo

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