Board of Aldermen Votes Unanimously to Approve First in the Nation Collateral Consequences Ordinance
(4/2/2012) The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Monday night to
approve the Collateral Consequences Ordinance, adding new clarity and transparency to City licensing and permit decisions regarding individuals with criminal records.
The term “collateral consequences” refers to the legal consequences that result from a criminal conviction but are not part of the sentence for the crime. This may include denial of licenses and permits, ineligibility for public programs, and impairment of voting rights. The Collateral Consequence Ordinance seeks to increase transparency
regarding the long term consequences of a criminal conviction.
“The proposed ordinance amendment builds on the achievements of the City's 2009 Ban the Box ordinance by reducing barriers to successful reintegration confronted by individuals with criminal convictions regarding city licenses and permits. Modeled on legislative recommendations from the American Bar Association and the Uniform Law Commission, the law is the first in the nation to improve transparency by mandating the collection and publication of collateral consequences,” said Amy Meek, Director of the Reentry Initiative.
“When we think about reentry, we often think about recently released individuals, many of whom need comprehensive support to build a safe and stable future. But there is another group of individuals, those who have
older convictions on their records, who continue to face barriers to employment and stable success. The City benefits as a whole when all residents have opportunities for stable employment,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
The Collateral Consequence Ordinance builds upon the success of New Haven’s Ban the Box Policy. Enacted in 2009, the Ban the Box Policy removed from all City job applications the “box” or query relating to an applicant’s conviction history. Under this ordinance, the City may
inquire about any conviction history an applicant may have only after it has made the applicant a provisional offer of employment on the basis of that individual’s qualifications. In addition, vendors contracting with the City must, under the ordinance, attest that they have hiring
policies consistent with the City’s own.
The Collateral Consequences Ordinance requires that the City compile and publish online all local laws allowing for the consideration of criminal convictions in decisions regarding jobs, contracts, licenses, and other benefits. Further, the ordinance provides simple guidelines for the
consideration of criminal records in the issuance of licenses and permits. Under the Collateral Consequences Ordinance, the factors used in determining whether an applicant’s criminal record is relevant to a license or permit will be the same ones used to determine relevance for
purposes of employment. Under the “Ban the Box” ordinance, the City considers factors including the nature of the conviction and its relationship to the type of benefit sought, the length of time that has passed since the conviction, the gravity of the offense, the age at the
time of the offense, and information relating to rehabilitation and good conduct.
Harold Williams, a New Haven resident, was previously denied for a street vendor's license because of his criminal record. "I'm trying to earn an honest living and provide for my family -- I used to sell drugs but now I want to use those skills in a positive way," Williams said. "I hope to get my vendor's license so I can show the community that you can change."
“Better re-entry policy is a key part of building a safer city,” said Alderwoman Jessica Holmes, chair of the Legislation Committee, which heard the ordinance.
Alderwoman Jackie James introduced an amendment Monday night that was adopted requiring a clearly defined independent review process for those seeking to appeal denials based on a prior criminal conviction.
An estimated one in four Americans has a criminal conviction on his or her record. Currently, about one in seven applications to the City for a food cart or vendor permit are denied due to a criminal record.
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