As some of you know, the CORI reform movement has been pushing Governor Patrick to implement an Executive Order to reform the states draconian CORI system as a means to help the Governor reach his stated goal of providing real relief to individuals affected by CORI this calendar year.
To that end, the Massachusetts Alliance to Reform CORI (MARC) along with the Boston Workers Alliance and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute drafted an executive order for the Administrations consideration, since it had become clear that reform legislation was not going to occur this year.
Thus began a series of discussions with the administration through the Executive Office of Public Safety. Participants in these discussions included Undersecretaries Mary-Beth Heffernan, John Grossman, and representatives of MARC, BWA, MLRI and Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner.
In the next few days, Governor Patrick will be issuing his executive order which as we understand it, will include the following information:
1) ACCURACY ISSUES:
- The Governor's Executive order is to include major changes in CORI accuracy. This meand converting from a named based system to a finger printing system to ensure accurate CORI's
- The fixing of all incorrect CORI's
- Significantly beefng up staff and improving the technology at the CHSB
- Expanding the training to businesses and others who hire on the reading of CORI's
2) EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES REGULATIONS:
- The Executive Office of Health and Human Services will rescind the Presumptive Qualifications that give people with CORI's a lifetime ban in health and human services jobs. (However, there is some talk about providing employers with an advisory list of crimes for which employers who represent vulnerable populations are advised to pay attention to. The administration and the Executive Office of Public Safety is aware that we disagree with this proposed advisory list. We have been assured that the administration is taking our concerns seriously, and that no final decision has been made on this idea. We expect to meet with them once again on this issue very soon).
- The Administration will be introducing legislation proposing changes in the states sealing law. They are proposing changing the sealing laws from its current 10 years for misdemeanors and 15 years for felonies to 5 years for misdemeanors and 10 years for felonies. CORI activists have been advocating for changes that call for the sealing of records at 3 years for misdemeanors and 7 years for felonies. The administration is open to working with us on our proposal.
- Increasing sanctions, including criminal charges, on businesses who misuse CORI.
WHAT'S STILL IN PLAY:
- Anti-discrimination, particularly the issue of removing the question of past criminal activity on job applications
- Limiting the CHSB in sending out CORI information through regulatory screening via executive order
- Strengthening due process for indiviiduals who's CORI's come back to an employer
Clearly, this is a good first step towards real reform, particularly the EOHHS provision. All of us who have participated in these discussions are clear that the administration of Governor Patrick is serious about reform of the system. However, remember family, THIS IS JUST A FIRST STEP!! We must continue to be vigilant in our organizing. We must ensure that employers honor these expected changes, and we ALL must be committed to the legislative fight that is to come to lower the sealing provision to 3 and 7 years.
When the order is issued, and the above information is what we expect it to say, it will help people immediately...but again, this is just the beginning. We still have to fight for jobs and job training. IT AIN'T OVER!!!
Here's hoping that this information will make your holiday season a little brighter. Have a great holiday, with lots of love and peace thrown in.
83 Highland St
Roxbury, Ma 02119
2 Harris Avenue
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130