CSI legal services project

Community Success Initiative is piloting a direct legal services initiative to formerly 000001secondchancebutton-smaller_0incarcerated men and women or those currently entangled in the criminal justice system. We will work to provide legal remedies such as securing a driver’s, license, obtaining certificates of relief, and creating and/or modifying child support orders.  We believe that civil legal problems are as significant a barrier to obtaining and keeping a job as any other non-legal life issue.  Because civil legal problems are often overlooked and can largely go unfixed, addressing and resolving these problems upon reentry will be an essential component to participants reaching programmatic milestones.

Community Success Initiative is piloting a direct legal services initiative to formerly incarcerated men and women or those currently entangled in the criminal justice system. We will work to provide legal remedies such as securing a driver’s, license, obtaining certificates of relief, and creating and/or modifying child support orders.  We believe that civil legal problems are as significant a barrier to obtaining and keeping a job as any other non-legal life issue.  Because civil legal problems are often overlooked and can largely go unfixed, addressing and resolving these problems upon reentry will be an essential component to participants reaching programmatic milestones.

**NOTE: Two members of the legal team– Daryl Atkinson and Lynn Burke—are persons previously incarcerated, who are now licensed attorneys, and clients will have the benefit and support of persons who having navigated the reentry process successfully they, can offer professional services after having made a successful turn around after prison. See links here to their story

Attorney Daryl Atkinson

Read his bio in PDF format

View his video, speaking at the Second Chance Lobby Day Press conference:

Attorney Lynn Burke

Read her bio in PDF format

View her video, speaking at the Second Chance Lobby Day Press Conference:

The following questions are an example of questions used to determine if our clients could use our help:

  1. What legal issues they feel is impacting their ability to find work?”

  2. Do they have a NC valid driver license?

  3. Do they have any pending charges or outstanding warrants for arrest? When and where?

  4. List all prior convictions.

1. Driver’s License Restoration

• Many of our clients will need help restoring or obtaining their driver’s license. If a person has a revoked or suspended driver’s license, they often won’t have a legal or feasible way to get to work. Driver’s license recovery assistance is very limited through the other project partners. This type of advocacy through the legal team will help restore the driver’s licenses of clients and also make them more competitive for a wider range of jobs that require a license.

2. Certificates of Relief and Expungement

Criminal background/arrest records are barriers to job placement when:

    • They contain inaccurate and/or extraneous information.  Until they are repaired, these records almost always contain excessive information about a person’s contact with law enforcement or the court or the corrections system. When all this information is unnecessarily and wrongly included, the records become quite long.  When we assist, oftentimes, we can help get it down to fewer pages, which are less impressionable.  In this sense, this type of assistance can ensure that potential employers do not immediately discard a person’s application into the “no” pile.

  • They contain accurate information but the employer incorrectly concludes that the crime statutorily prohibits the sectors where the person can get a job.   For example, many employers in the health care and transportation industries treat any felony as a statutory ban on employment when in fact the statutory bans are very limited. We can assist in this type of relief for clients.

3. Child Support Arrears

Large child support arrears act as a disincentive to work:  left unchecked, arrears often result in re-incarceration for violation of a court order. Furthermore, arrears also can result in the worker receiving so little take-home pay that he/she is unable to support him/herself. Consequently, they are left thinking that the job is not worth the effort, despite their desire to financially support their children.  The Legal team can help reduce the financial burden on the client so that he /she can succeed in the program while same time maintaining a regular payment to support his/her child (ren). Here, it is important to emphasize that recent recidivism statistics confirm that a strong family support system is a cursor to success after release from incarceration. Therefore, a realistic child-support payment is also important because they not only raise the parents’ self-esteem but are a positive step towards fixing the damaged parent- child relationship that usually occurs when a parent is incarcerated, thus increasing their probability of success after their release.

 

4. Occupational Licensing Advocacy

Many prisoners while incarcerated are trained in various trades and even more have college degrees. The majority will not be eligible to receive a license despite their training due to the subjective interpretations of the law by licensure boards. Moreover, many occupational licensure boards often attach societal stigma to people with a record and unjustly deny licensure in various professions based on that stigma. Through advocacy and support.employer incorrectly concludes that the crime statutorily prohibits the sectors where the person can get a job.   For example, many employers in the health care and transportation industries treat any felony as a statutory ban on employment when in fact the statutory bans are very limited. We can assist in this type of relief for clients.

 

 

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