CORI Reform Passes House 139-17!

[Speaker DeLeo greets CORI advocates after historic House vote]


*What Happened and What’s Next?*

CORI Reform was passed in the House late Wednesday with a vote of 139 to 17! The victory was a critical milestone, making us a major step closer to the adoption of CORI reform into law.

The vote now places CORI reform into Conference Committee, where a small group of State Reps and Senators will be responsible for reconciling the House and Senate versions to produce a final bill.

The Conference Committee process could be lengthy, and requires for supporters of the campaign to stay vigilant. The Committee has until the end of July to produce a bill for signing by the Governor. We will press the Committee to release a bill much sooner.

Key to pushing a final bill through Conference is to maintain momentum for CORI reform until it is signed. To that end, we ask our supporters to share your excitement by calling your State Rep today!

*Call Your State Rep. to Thank Them for Voting Yes!*

If you called your State Rep, now is the time to call them back and thank them for voting Yes.

Dial (61)7 722 2000 to be connected to your Rep

“Hi, my name is ______. I’m calling to thank Rep. ______ for voting yes for CORI reform. This is important to me because ______. Please ask the Representative to keep up the pressure, and make sure we get the strongest bill to the Governor as soon as possible.”

139 Reps voted yes, including every State Rep. in Boston! Please call them today to say thanks for doing the right thing for our State!

See the list of Reps who voted NO below. If your Rep voted NO, give them a call and express your unhappiness with their decision.

Voted NO: Driscoll, Miceli, Webster, Smola, Polito, Perry, Humanson, Hargraves, Frost, deMacedo, Barrows, Poirier, Hill, Stanley T.M., Stanley H.L., Spiliotis, Speliotis

To see the full Roll Call Vote - visit

*What Was in the Bill?*

Main Points in the 4703 Bill:

The CORI bill includes our key priorities:

* “Ban the Box” from initial job applications
* Reduce the sealing times from 15 and 10 years to 10 years and 5
* Start the sealing periods at the beginning of probation/parole,
instead of at the end
* Automatically remove cases that were found not guilty, dismissed or
continued without a finding
* Requires employers and housing authorities to provide a copy of a
record before questioning an applicant about their record

The CORI bill also included the Senate’s proposals to:

* Upgrade the CORI to an online system, to compete with for-profit,
internet background check companies
* Preventing violent crimes resulting in death and serious sex
offenses from ever being sealed
* Retains law enforcement access to all records, including sealed charges

The House CORI bill DID NOT include the following proposals included
in the Senate bill:

* Reforming mandatory minimums, allowing individuals who served 2/3rd
of a non violent drug sentence as eligible for parole
* Mandatory post-release supervision, that would require every
prisoner serving more than 1 year in prison to have a minimum of 9
months and a maximum of 2 years of parole supervision

Download Bill Text and Summaries Below

Final House CORI Bill 2010
House CORI Bill Summary (short)
CORI House Bill Comparison to Senate CORI Bill

House CORI Yes No Roll Call Votes

The Boston Globe

Criminal records bill gets House OK
Would limit access to job seekers’ past

By Michael Levenson, Globe Staff | May 27, 2010

House lawmakers yesterday approved legislation long sought by Governor Deval Patrick that would limit employers’ access to the criminal records of job applicants, a change that supporters said would make it easier for former convicts to find work and avoid a return to crime.

Moments after the bill passed, on a 138 to 17 vote, a throng of former offenders and activists who had been watching from the House gallery spilled into the halls of the State House, cheering and chanting. The bill was a priority for many of Boston’s ministers and others who work to reintegrate former offenders into society.

“It’s so nice to have a voice that’s heard,” said Cassandra Bensahih, an aspiring medical secretary from Worcester who said she had served six months for a drug offense.

“I’m not asking for a handout,” said Bensahih, a mother of three who said she had been turned down for jobs and for housing because of her record. “I’m just asking for a chance to prove myself. This is the chance.”

The bill is a version of legislation that passed the Senate in November. Under both measures, felony convictions on a person’s record would be sealed and unavailable to prospective employers after 10 years, instead of 15 years under current law. A House-Senate conference committee must now iron out differences between the bills.

Misdemeanors would be sealed after five years, rather than 10 under current law. Some crimes, such as murder and manslaughter, would never be sealed to employers. The House legislation, unlike the Senate version, requires that sex offenses never be sealed, House lawmakers said.

Both measures prohibit job applications from including questions about a person’s criminal record, although employers are free to ask about that during job interviews. That was known as the so-called “ban the box” provision and was seen as vital to giving former offenders a chance at finding work.

The measure cleared the House without any debate, after lawmakers spent more than five hours behind closed doors hashing out disagreements. The vote fell largely along party lines, although six Democrats joined the majority of the House’s 15 Republicans in opposing the bill.

“I feel very strongly that we should be strengthening the [Criminal Offender Record Information] law and not making it more weak, and I feel that’s what this does, absolutely weaken the CORI law,” said Representative James R. Miceli, a Wilmington Democrat, who voted against the bill. “People who have a history might end up in positions where they shouldn’t be.”

House leaders said the bill would reduce crime by giving offenders a second chance. One key supporter was Representative Eugene L. O’Flaherty, a Chelsea Democrat and House chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who said he had long harbored reservations about the legislation.

O’Flaherty said he had worried for years that the bill would make it difficult for public housing officials, who are also governed by the legislation, to screen out former convicts who pose a risk to society. But after studying the issue, he said, he learned that the chance of a convict reoffending drops sharply after six years, so a 10-year limit on access to their records is reasonable.

The bill “makes a policy acknowledgement about rehabilitation, that turning a corner actually means something in our criminal justice policy,” O’Flaherty told his colleagues in the lone floor speech on the issue.

A jubilant Steve O’Neill, executive director of Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement, said, “This is going to change things enormously, because now people get a chance to get their foot in the door and prove who they are and be considered for their merits before their demerits are counted against them.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who has for years pushed for limits in the criminal offender record system and who has testified on the issue at the State House, released a statement praising last night’s House vote.

“CORI reform is not about allowing those who commit serious crimes to escape the consequences of their actions; it is about helping those who make mistakes and pay their debt to society to be reincorporated as positive, contributing members of the community,” he said.

Patrick’s office released a statement last night saying he “looks forward to working with the House and Senate to get a strong bill on his desk.”

“This is about being tough and smart on crime prevention, reducing recidivism, and helping ex-offenders get back on their feet to lead productive lives,” the statement said.

Michael Levenson can be reached at [email protected]

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