Dec. 7-8 Seminars Are Part of Senator’s Ongoing Efforts To Reduce Recidivism Rates In New Jersey
JERSEY CITY – Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham, a long-time champion of initiatives to rehabilitate criminal offenders, today announced she will host two back-to-back seminars next week in Jersey City to inform residents of their options for expunging their records.
The seminars, to be hosted along with Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-Hudson) and the Rev. Robert Allen, are part of the Senator’s ongoing efforts to reduce recidivism rates in New Jersey by removing barriers to employment, educational opportunities and housing for criminal offenders and for inmates once they return home. The events come on the heels of changes to state laws that took effect this year easing the requirements for expungement.
“A large majority of people who have had run-ins with the law want to be productive citizens. But to do that, they must be given a reasonable opportunity to obtain gainful employment, to find housing and to further their education,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Clearing their records will improve their prospects of achieving all of these things and, ultimately, reduce the risk that they will reoffend.”
Senator Cunningham spearheaded a package of bills signed into law this year aimed at facilitating the successful re-entry of prisoners into society. One requires the state Corrections Commissioner to provide inmates, prior to their release, with written information about their criminal history as well as information on record expungement. Another law – which took effect in March – eased restrictions on the types of crimes which could be expunged, as well as the time period that must elapse before eligibility for expungement.
“Offenders can’t turn their lives around if they aren’t given the chance,” said Senator Cunningham. “These seminars will provide residents with information about how to begin the process of expunging convictions from their records, which is a major step toward ensuring they are treated the same as everyone else when applying for a job or seeking housing. The overarching goal is to ensure that once offenders have paid their debt to society, their past does not hamper their ability to succeed going forward.”
The seminars will feature two speakers on expungement, attorneys Larry Bembry and Kalima Ahmad. The first event will be held Tuesday, Dec. 7, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Mary McLeod Bethune Center, 140 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Jersey City. The second will be held Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at County Prep High School, ITV Center, 525 Montgomery Street, Jersey City.