CORI reform demonstrators held a press conference and rally on the steps of the State House representing a broad range of organizations that are moving to change the CORI laws. State Senator Augustus of Worcester spoke in favor of the proposed changes and urged legislators to act on CORI within the next two months.
Cambridge City Councilor Ken Reeves called on the state to follow the lead of Boston and Cambridge that enacted major CORI reforms by removing the criminal record question from all City job applications and from those of its vendors. Lisa Clauson, executive director of Community Labor United reiterated the investment of organized labor groups in the ultimate success of this cause.
Reform advocates have called the Governor’s CORI reform bill inadequate, and aim to add key provisions from the comprehensive Public Safety Act, which has been sent to study. Core priorities include banning the criminal record box from job applications, automatically sealing non guilty records, and reducing the waiting period to seal records after 7 years of good behavior for a felony and 3 years for a misdemeanor.
Judith Foster, member of the Boston Workers’ Alliance, shared her story about being unable to find a job despite significance work experience in the health care field and in both the Mayor and Senator Kerry’s offices. Foster received a CORI almost 20 years ago after receiving charges that were levied against her partner with whom she lived. Even though her relationship was abusive and she was not involved in the crime, she received a devastating CORI through her associations, which continues to haunt her today.
Similarly, Juan Filomeno, statewide EPOCA walker described in an interview his inability to secure a janitorial job due to his CORI resulting from a non-violent domestic dispute, despite being grossly overqualified for the position.
The Walk to Freedom helped press the need for CORI reform in the last two months of the legislative session. While Governor Patrick passed an Executive Order on CORI in January, the clamor for comprehensive reforms intensifies with each grassroots action. Wilnelia Rivera of Neighbor to Neighbor MA lauded the energy and turnout of the march, and implored all advocates to continue community level education and legislative pressure.