NJ Together Gets “Fair Chance in Housing Act” Signed Into State Law
June 18, 2021, New Jersey Together organizer Boris Franklin spoke at the state’s first event commemorating Juneteenth held at Calvary Baptist Church in Paterson. At the event, he shared his story and the stories of those directly impacted by the criminal justice system that we’ve listened to in Jersey City & Morris County in recent years.
Gov. Murphy then signed into law the “Fair Chance in Housing Act” that prohibits landlords from asking about a person’s criminal record and limits their use of background checks. The law will be the strongest of its kind in the country.
If you haven’t read the New York Times article profiling Boris’s story and the legislation when the bill passed both houses of the legislature, take a few moments to read it now.
New Jersey Together testified about this bill in Trenton, sharing stories we had heard about the impact on individuals and families we had met who had struggled to access housing because of a past criminal record.
Leadership on this campaign came from Fair Share Housing Center, with strong support from organizations like the Reform Action Center NJ, the NAACP, and many others. Legislative leadership came from Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Assemblywomen Shavonda Sumter, Senator Troy Singleton, Assemblywomen Angela McKnight & Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, as well as from Speaker Coughlin and Senate President Sweeney.
Landlords Barred From Using Criminal Records to Deny Housing, New York Times
Bill to Help Former Inmates Find Housing A 'Game-Changer' for NJ, Gov. Murphey Says , USA Today
Years of Work by CONECT Culminates in Clean Slate Law for Connecticut
After three years of sustained organizing work by the leaders of CONECT, Gov. Ned Lamont signed the Clean Slate bill into law on June 10, 2021.
“Let this hard-fought win be a model for how states across the country can begin to end the continuing harm of mass incarceration, particularly in its targeting of Black and brown individuals, and build safer, more prosperous communities.” said Rev. Anthony L. Bennett, pastor of Mt. Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport and co-chair of CONECT.
Clean Slate is the automatic erasure of criminal records for certain convictions after between seven and 10 years, for individuals who remain free of the criminal justice system upon release from custody. There was a process to apply for erasure in Connecticut, but the application process was burdensome, costly, bureaucratic, and subjective.
To put this momentous win in perspective:
Clean Slate is a racial justice issue. In Connecticut, black people are 9.4 times more likely than white people to be incarcerated, and Latinx people are 3.9 times more likely to be incarcerated than white people. The effects of this systemic racism would persist for decades to come without Clean Slate.
Clean Slate improves public safety. When people's records are erased, they gain access to jobs, housing, and higher education. Recidivism rates dramatically decrease as a result. That makes everyone safer.
Clean Slate boosts the economy. One 2016 study estimates that the collective national impact of the shackles of a criminal record reduces our GDP each year between $78 billion and $87 billion. Based on Connecticut's population, this means the loss of between $859 million and $958 million in economic activity each year in our state. Clean Slate will create job opportunities for thousands of CT residents, thereby expanding our state’s economic growth.
Read CONECT's letter, with Clean Slate allies, commemorating the victory and urging legislators to continue to support Clean Slate.
Gov. Ned Lamont signs ‘clean slate’ bill erasing criminal records of more than 300,000 Connecticut residents into law, Hartford Courant [pdf]
Gov. Signs Clean Slate Bill, CT News Junkie [pdf]
Working Together Jackson, Allies, Remove Symbol of Confederacy from State Flag
Working Together Jackson interfaith leaders stood on the steps of the Catholic cathedral in downtown Jackson Thursday morning, calling for the immediate removal of the Mississippi state flag.
In a resounding a voice, they said any discussion of what design should replace the current flag must not impede the current goal: Taking down a flag associated with white supremacy.
"Anything is better than what we've got now," said Bishop Ronnie Crudup of New Horizon Church International.
People have been protesting for racial justice in Mississippi and across the nation this month at levels not seen since the civil rights movement more than 50 years ago.Read more