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CORI Reform Public Hearing

 Spare Change News (USA) 25 May 2019

The regulations that govern Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) have recently come under review in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. On Monday, July 27 a public hearing on CORI reform was held at the Gardner Auditorium of the State House, with arguments heard from both sides of the issue. David Jefferson explores the argument .( (425 words) - David Jefferson

The regulations that govern Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) have recently come under review in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. On Monday, July 27 a public hearing on CORI reform was held at the Gardner Auditorium of the State House, with arguments heard from both sides of the issue.

 

The CORI system was last reformed effective May 16, 2019. Since CORI was expanded several years ago, many critics have decried the dissemination of criminal records, arguing that the system whose original purpose was law enforcement has unjustly allowed employers, landlords, and others to gain access to sensitive information.

 

Advocates against the contemporary, widespread utilization of CORI say that such broadband access has inevitably created the opportunity for discrimination against individuals with criminal records. Meanwhile, advocates for the maintenance of the current CORI system say that open access to criminal records will keep 'dangerous criminals' off the street.

 

Among the groups in favor of CORI reform was the Boston-based Homes for Families. "Throughout the commonwealth the current CORI system presents many barriers for families trying to achieve economic and housing stability," the agency wrote in a press release prior to the event. Others, such as Rev. Jeffery Brown, note that criminal recidivism occurs at significantly higher rates among the unemployed, an argument against employers' use of information from CORI reports in making hiring decisions.

 

Information in CORI records follows those with criminal records long after the date of conviction, and may still pursue individuals after sentences have been served. Felony convictions remain on a CORI report for 15 years, while misdemeanors have a 10-year tenure.

 

During the July 27 Joint Committee on Judiciary hearing, several bills directly and indirectly related to CORI reform were introduced. Among these are three principal ones: H1255, sponsored by Demetrius J. Atsalis (Act to mandate CORI evaluations for foster parents); H1440, sponsored by Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (Act relative to CORI reform); H3523, sponsored by Elizabeth A. Malia (Act to reform CORI, restore economic opportunity and improve public safety). The latter is bill S1608 in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Creem.

 

According to New England Cable News (NECN), Gov. Patrick and Boston Mayor Menino testified in favor of the three bills outlined above that would reform the CORI system. Primarily, these bills would allow records to be sealed after 7 years for felonies and after 3 years for misdemeanors. The bills would also prohibit potential employers for asking for CORI information on initial job applications.

 

 

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