Boston –The Boston Foundation responded to today’s announcement by the office of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick with praise for an Executive Order that changes how potential employees who have criminal records will be treated when they apply for jobs at state agencies. A public education campaign will be designed to teach potential employers and employees about their rights with respect to court records. In addition, the administration has filed legislation that will change the way criminal records are managed.
“This thoughtful reform serves to balance the compelling needs for public safety and justice as well as the needs of our economy,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “It gives an opportunity to those who have made mistakes in the past to become productive members of society, with jobs to sustain them.”
The Foundation cosponsored with the Crime and Justice Institute a report titled CORI: Opening Doors of Opportunity: A Workforce and Public Safety Imperative in May, 2007, which the current Executive Order and legislation draw from. The report recommends changes in the way the Criminal Offender Record Information, better known as CORI, is used, in order to remove unnecessary barriers to employment for men and women with criminal histories. At the same time, the report calls for retaining the system’s ability to maintain the safety of the workplace.
“In this economy we need all hands on deck,” said Grogan. “The administration has found a way to create economic opportunity while protecting vulnerable populations. That is an achievement with two compelling parts. ”
The report was the work of a broadly inclusive Task Force convened by the Boston Foundation in 2006 and chaired by Robert Gittens, Vice President of Public Affairs, Northeastern University and a former Assistant District Attorney and Chair of the Parole Board for Suffolk County, and Elizabeth Pattullo, President and CEO, Beacon Health Strategies LLC.
The report followed a report published in 2005 by the Boston Foundation entitled CORI: Balancing Individual Rights and Public Access, also executed in a partnership with the Crime and Justice Institute. A third report, Rethinking Justice in Massachusetts: Public Attitudes Toward Crime and Punishment, also published in 2005, tracked public opinion about the sharp increase in the incarcerated population in the Commonwealth and about current strategies for reintegrating ex-offenders who have been released into the community.
The CORI initiative was overseen by Boston Foundation Director of Grantmaking Richard Ward.
Among their findings, the reports addressed a public misperception that all offenders are violent offenders. In fact, of the nearly 60,000 convictions that took place in 2004, about 70 percent were for misdemeanors, and 63 percent resulted in probation or fines and not incarceration. In other words, the great majority of those in the CORI system are not considered at risk of a serious or violent offense in the future. Indeed, only a very small percentage of the offender population ever committed violent crime.
In addition to the two co-chairs, members of the Task Force included: Andrea Cabral, Sheriff of Suffolk County; Tom Coury, Executive Director, Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation; Marc Draisen, Executive Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council; Haywood Fennell, Founder and President, Stanley Jones Clean Slate Project; Lewis Finfer, Massachusetts Community Action Network; Tom Jones, Vice President and Counsel, The Employers’ Resource Group, Associated Industries of Massachusetts; Lori Kipnis, Human Resources Director, Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston; Larry Mayes, Chief of Human Services, the Mayor’s Office, City of Boston; Jack McDevitt, Director, Center for Criminal Justice Policy Research, Northeastern University; Bonnie Michelman, Director, Police, Security and Outside Services, Massachusetts General Hospital; Ben Thompson, Executive Director, STRIVE; and Michael Weekes, President and CEO, Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers.
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of over $964 million. In 2007, the Foundation and its donors made more than $92 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of more than $155 million. The Foundation is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges. For more information about the Boston Foundation, visit www.tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.