When a person is on probation or parole, very rarely are they current on the court fines, fees, and restitution they must pay as part of their reparations for the crimes they committed. Just as frequently, courts suspend the probationers’ and parolees’ driver’s licenses until the fines, fees, and restitution are paid in full. The problem, particularly in rural areas, is that if you do not have a driver’s license, then you have no means of transportation to travel to and from work or school. Without transportation, you cannot maintain a job. If you cannot maintain employment, then you certainly cannot pay your debt to society, nor can you support yourself or your family, at least through legal means. Crime frequently becomes the only option left.Read more
Parole hearings are often delayed, which can significantly impact someone's life. My bill was inspired in part by the story of Mr. Robert Polk, who was on parole when a false charge was lodged against him. Despite the DA dismissing the charges quickly, Mr. Polk was immediately arrested and re-incarcerated for parole violation, where he had to wait more than a year for a parole hearing.Read more
Previously, the law stated that an ex-offender could petition for their certificate of employability, which is available to ex-offenders who committed non-violent crimes and can help them land a job, only if they were in the process of restoring their rights of citizenship, which is a lengthy process in its own right. This made it difficult for ex-offenders to get a job and reenter the workforce.Read more
Since 2001, there has been a massive expansion in the use of technology to conduct domestic surveillance. Federal grants have enabled local governments nationwide to purchase these technologies, which are often acquired and used in secret. This creates a range of problems for individuals, communities, and the police, and will only increase as the Trump administration seeks to expand the use of military-grade police gear and surveillance. Over-reliance on secret surveillance technology can exacerbate distrust between communities and police. Secret technologies also often have secret methods of data storage. In an era of hacks and data breaches, the public deserves an understanding of how governments will safeguard sensitive data gathered by surveillance.Read more
Columbus has a generally low unemployment rate, hovering right around four percent. But in some neighborhoods, unemployment rates exceeds 20 percent. Neighborhoods that are persistently underemployed often struggle with resulting symptoms of poverty. Many unemployed residents are employable but overlooked due to having served time in prison, and the City of Columbus's retraining program for restored citizens and other reentry programs report that their largest limiting factor is the lack of available jobs to plug into. This shows us we can't solve the problem without private sector engagement.Read more
Following the national trend, Douglas County, Kansas has experienced an explosion in its female jail population. Most incarcerated females are being held for misdemeanor or drug offenses, with a significant portion of the population in-custody because of failure on pre-trial release or probation.
Diversion has long been used to divert low level offenders away from the criminal justice system. Historically, any history of prior offenses has barred participation in standard diversion programs. Since standard diversion programs are designed to address low level offenders, support services such as drug treatment, employment assistance and housing stabilization are not addressed.Read more
Too many veterans return home with health, substance abuse and/or psychosocial problems, making it difficult to re-enter the civilian population. A lack of jobs, along with family and housing issues, also takes its toll. When these veterans run afoul of the criminal justice system, it’s important for their unique circumstances to be understood and addressed.Read more
Santa Cruz has long grappled with persistent drug and alcohol abuse-fueled petty crimes in its downtown area. The community’s sense of safety and economic prosperity are adversely impacted by this cycle of recidivism and many in Santa Cruz consider the local criminal justice system to be a revolving door for low-level criminals.Read more
The historical lack of communication and information sharing between municipal courts in Montgomery County and the jail led to higher prison costs and duplicative efforts to track down information. This lack of coordination also hindered the social service system providers such as Children Services, Child Support Enforcement, and the tracking of Child Daycare Providers.Read more
There is a national data gap on police officer use of deadly force, and officer-involved shootings because there is no mandatory reporting policy at the national level to capture information about these incidents. While Texas law already requires law enforcement agencies to report information on a number of different types of incidents to the state, including in-custody deaths, it does not require law enforcement agencies to provide statistics on police officer shootings. This means there is limited information for local police to address these issues and no aggregate data for policymakers, researchers, and law enforcement agencies to analyze in order to better understand and address possible trends or issues.