For the second year in a row, the Second Chance for Employment Act has won a spot on the Our Children, Our Future (OCOF) annual anti-poverty platform. One of 18 policies, this year it’s part of the Putting WV Back to Work strategy.
The platform was created through an 18-month process that included more than 3,800 West Virginians from more than 177 partner organizations, congregations, unions, and chambers of commerce, who debated the issues, vetted them, and then voted on their top priorities, according to the group. The ideas were submitted by Democrats and Republicans, pastors and doctors, policy experts and others.
The place on the platform adds a glimmer of hope to this year’s campaign, compared to the last legislative session, in which a groundswell of support by citizens, sheriffs, prosecutors, and the military failed to produce the desired result.
“I am so pleased that OCOF supporters have once again chosen to not give up on our fellow West Virginians who deserve a second chance,” says Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha, 37).
Second chance legislation eliminates the 18 to 26- year- old age restriction in the current statute. As noted In Emergence From Civil Death: The Evolution of Expungement in West Virginia, this is the only state that denies those age 27 and older the ability to get criminal records expunged by sealing them.
“The age limitation should be removed because it is arbitrary, with no rational basis for the distinction between offenders based on age,” say co-authors WVU Law Professor Valena Beety and Judge Michael John Aloi, U.S. Magistrate for the Northern District of West Virginia.
The proposed legislation also adds low-level felonies, such as credit card fraud. Please keep in mind that there is no provision for a violent crime of any type, including use of a gun, domestic violence, and offenses against children. You can view a draft of last year’s legislation by clicking here.
Expungement eliminates any reference to the conviction when pursuing employment, housing, and other activities.
The primary argument against expungement is that employers should know about convictions. However, recidivism rates decline over time, meaning that convictions stop being indicative of an individual’s likelihood to commit additional crimes.
Here’s the Whole Platform
Great Education and Jobs
Make West Virginia the Best Place to Start a Small Business (-) (Small Business Regulatory Review, Entrepreneurship Ed in Schools, One Stop Shop for Starting a Business)
Jobs for Coal Families (-) (Tax Cuts for Hiring Miner Families, Re-Training, Infrastructure)
K-12 Education for Real Life (n) (Simulated Work Place, Substance Abuse, Computer Science, Civics, Phys Ed)
Fair Workplace (n) (Repeal Right to Work, Restore Prevailing Wage, Equal Pay, Paid Family Leave)
Make Higher Education Debt-Free (-) (Pay it Forward, Tax Credits for Returning Students)
Early Childhood Education for All (n) (Expanding Pre-K, Child Care Benefits, Home-Visiting Statewide)
Knocking WV off the Worst Health Lists (n) (community health workers, open up schools as rec centers, health class, prevention)
Increasing Safeguards to our Water Supply (n)
School Based Mental Health (-) (social workers in schools)
Stop the Opioid Crisis (+) (Pain Pill Tax = Recovery Houses and Prevention)
Cannabis for Medical Use (+)
Turning Around Dilapidated Buildings (-) (Loan Fund for Cities to Re-Purpose Run Down Buildings)
Infrastructure Now: Roads and Broadband (n) (Massive infrastructure program, funded by Modernization of Fuel Tax, Fed Dollars, DMV Fees)
Encouraging Work & Earned Income Tax Credit (n)(Employers pay for workers on food stamps; tax credit for families who work)
Pay Your Fair Share (+) (Closing Tax Loopholes, Create State Fiscal Office)
Ending Youth Incarceration (+) (Limits on youth parole and incarceration, reinvest savings in treatment and community-based services)
Middle Class Tax Cuts (n) (Fair tax policy that levels effective tax rates for high, middle, and low-income earners)
Putting WV Back to Work (+) (Second Chance for Employment, Benefits Shouldn’t Punish Work and Marriage, PTIF)
“WV is in a fiscal crisis,” the group says. “This Commitment is revenue neutral. Items like the Pain Pill Tax and Closing Tax Loopholes make up for the cost of things like expanding Early Childhood Education. Many issues are designed to be revenue neutral; i.e., infrastructure projects would be paid for by a modernization of the fuel tax and DMV fees. + indicates revenue positive. – indicates a cost. n indicates revenue neutral.”
A Voice for Kids and Families
The Our Children, Our Future Campaign to End Child Poverty is an initiative of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. Thirty percent of West Virginia boys and girls under age six live in poverty, according to the group. Expanding the workforce is a key priority in changing that statistic.
You can learn more at ocofwv.org.
How You Can Help
Your vote in the general election on Tuesday, November 8 helps determine the ultimate success for second chance legislation and in putting West Virginia back on track.
Please share this blog with others. There is strength in numbers. We will make this happen.
Next time on July 17 on Second Chances For West Virginians: Who To Vote For – The Full Slate of Recommended Candidates
About the Author
Robert Grossman has written for radio and TV news reporting as well as newspapers and magazines, including Bicycling and Professional Pilot.