Host: Americans for Immigrant Justice
Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The Florida Bar Foundation
Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s Clean Slate Project collaborates with community partners to provide direct reentry legal services and support to individuals impacted by the criminal justice system. Unresolved legal matters impede an individual’s access driver’s and occupational licenses, public benefits, and employment. To combat this problem, the Clean Slate Project will supplement the important services provided by our partner organizations with direct legal services and support for expungements of dismissed charges and convictions and Certificates of Relief for convictions.
Over the last 30 years, the US has experienced an explosion in the number of people who have come in contact with the criminal justice system: about 1.6 million people are currently in prison; 4 million are on probation; and nearly 65 million have a criminal record. In the South, the prison population has grown faster than in any other region. Criminal justice is therefore a critically important issue–particularly so for communities of color.
Collateral consequences of a criminal conviction are formidable—often insurmountable–barriers to successful reentry. They include disenfranchisement; denial of public employment and benefits; loss of professional licenses; and deportation. Southern states have more legal barriers to successful reentry than other regions of the country. (According to a report by the Legal Action Center, which ranked all 50 states from best to worst based on the number of legal obstacles faced by people attempting to renter society, most of the southern states were ranked in the worst category, meaning they had the greatest number of roadblocks to reentry.)
The entrenched criminal justice system is in urgent need of reform. The machinery of mass incarceration must be dismantled by mitigating racial disparities, lowering recidivism rates, promoting progressive reentry policies, and changing current drug policies.
Removing the barriers created by the collateral consequences of a person's criminal history is essential to ensuring that all citizens can fully participate in society.
Bethan R. Eynon /
Equal Justice Works 2014 Fellow