CORI reform on the horizon

January 16, 2009

Thanks to the work of groups like the Boston Workers’ Alliance (BWA), Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reforms are beginning to take shape in Massachusetts.

Visiting the State House to push for CORI reform

Last year, these efforts spurred Governor Patrick to issue an Executive Order on CORI, resulting in new proposed regulations by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).

CORI is a database created in the ’70s for use by law enforcements agencies. Today, the BWA says about 10,000 organizations can access CORI reports and that these records are "used to deny people jobs, housing credit and student loans." The campaign for CORI reform aims to end discrimination for qualified ex-offenders who have paid their debt to society.

In its draft of new CORI procedures, the EOHHS recommends that rehabilitated offenders be "given a fair opportunity to be employed and reintegrated successfully into the workplace." EOHHS has also adopted BWA’s "ban the box" policy, which removes the criminal record question from job applications. If instituted, candidates won't need to disclose CORIs until after they have been found eligible for a job. This is an enormous victory according to the BWA because, "Eighty percent [of] businesses that check CORIs say that they will not hire anyone with a record regardless of the offense."

Another regulation proposes that felonies more than ten years old and misdemeanors more than five years old, with no pending cases or convictions, will not be considered by employers. BWA is asking to lower these further to seven and three years respectively, and to purge non-violent misdemeanors.

The public comment period on the proposal ended last week. See the BWA's factsheet for more information on the regulations. Stay tuned for updates and congratulations to BWA for their hard work in furthering real CORI reform!