Monday, March 7, 2011

Fighting Discrimination After Conviction

One of the things we probably have not focused on enough here on our 6 and 44 blog is the effect that the label "felon" has on those trying to re-enter society after time in prison.  Upon release, there are myriad ways in which an ex-offender can be barred from employment, voting, public housing, food stamps, etc., etc.   The list goes on and on.

One organization in the Bay Area, called All of Us or None, is working to combat the many forms of discrimination faced by ex-offenders as they attempt to re-enter society.  Check out their website and take a look at the campaigns they have created to fight the discrimination affecting ex-offenders.

Also, a recent study by the Washington Uniform Law Commission stated that there are 586 "collateral consequences" of being labeled a felon just in Washington States laws alone.  In other words there are 586 ways in which a person labeled a felon can be legally discriminated against.  Imagine. 

The Uniform Law Commission is attempting to make laws consistent from state to state, and a current draft of the Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act is available online.  Committee members in various states are also listed, so if you want to have your voice heard, give them a shout.

As Michelle Alexander illustrates in her book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," it is the label of felon that relegates individuals to a second class status, creating an under-caste in our society.

If you have not looked at the data regarding collateral consequences, check out the work done by Michelle Alexander. Then, go help out our friends at All of Us or None or search for groups in your area.

With Hope for Justice!

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