By Greg St. Martin

APR 20, 2007


Anthony Meeks admits he didn’t always make the best choices was he was younger. But, after spending most of the last 10 years volunteering and working as a youth worker, he said all he needed was an opportunity to turn his life around.

Yesterday, Meeks was one of about 125 people who marched from the Roxbury Crossing T station to Boston Common yesterday calling for reform of the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system.

“I think it’s important to give someone a chance who just came out of the [prison] system,” Meeks told Metro. “You have to take a chance on someone who wants to change their life.”

Over the past few years, CORI reform has been an emotionally-charged topic in the Bay State. The records are widely available when people apply for jobs, housing and certain licenses, and offenders with at least a five-year sentence must carry a CORI for 15 years after the sentence ends. But several pieces of legislation pending on Beacon Hill would decrease the amount of time those records remain publicly available, as well as eliminate that information in cases that resulted in acquittals.

“A lot of these people are getting caught in their late teens and 20s, and what happens to them in their 20s in still affecting them when they’re 55 and 60,” Jackie Lageson, program coordinator at the Massachusetts Alliance for Reforming CORI, said last night by phone. “It’s about bringing some common sense to how we use this.”

In an e-mail yesterday, Gov. Deval Patrick’s spokesman Kyle Sullivan said the governor “supports a hybrid approach to CORI reform,” and that while “he supports law enforcement having broad and unlimited access to CORI, but he does not believe it’s necessary for all employers to have access to information unrelated to the job for which a person is applying.”

“The only changes Gov. Patrick will consider and support are those that are undeniably fair that will enhance public safety,” Sullivan wrote.