Georgia Justice Project’s 2016 Reentry Policy Recommendations
The Georgia Justice Project is committed to reducing the barriers to opportunity caused by having a criminal record in Georgia. The Georgia Crime Information Center estimates that there are as many as 4 million people with a criminal record in Georgia – which means 1 in 3 Georgians have an arrest and/or conviction reported on their criminal history. The overwhelming research indicates that the most important predictor of recidivism is whether there is reasonable access to stable and gainful employment. Yet studies have found that the unemployment rate for people with records of conviction is as high as 65-70%. Moreover, there is additional research indicating the chance for a job callback is reduced by 50% if an applicant has a criminal record. There is a clear fiscal need to improve access to opportunity for those with a criminal record in Georgia, yet the state’s laws are consistently ranked by the Legal Action Center as among the most burdensome in the country for people with criminal records seeking to secure jobs and other opportunities.
- Improve the way criminal records are considered for state licensing and only allow reasonably related convictions to be considered.
- No denials of applicants for state licensing based on charges that did not result in conviction; and
- Convictions only considered when there is a substantial relationship to the position/occupation.
- Restore the intent of the First Offender Act in Georgia so that rehabilitated first offenders can get jobs.
- Seal all records of successful first offenders including those maintained at the clerks of court and jails;
- Only allow first offender records to be modified by court order and remove the administrative modification notices from all first offender cases maintained by GCIC;
- Allow judges to modify a sentence and grant first offender treatment within one year of the imposition of a sentence without requiring the consent of the prosecutor; and
- Provide successful first offenders a remedy when denied employment based on the first offender case.
- Lift the lifetime ban on food stamps for people convicted of drug felonies.
- Opt out of the federally imposed lifetime ban on food stamp benefits for individuals convicted of a drug felony.
- Require consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to provide current, accurate and relevant criminal history information.
- Require CRAs doing business in Georgia to register with the Secretary of State;
- For employment checks, require CRAs check the courthouse records before reporting criminal history information; and
- Provide a state remedy against CRAs reporting inaccurate or sealed criminal history information.
- Allow certain convictions to be restricted from an individual’s criminal history after a period of time.
- Allow individuals convicted of misdemeanors and nonviolent drug and property felonies to petition for these convictions to be restricted after a period of 10 years has passed since the conviction.