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CORI & Re-Entry Project Impact Advocacy
GBLS is the only legal aid program with a large-scale volume practice of CORI clients. Some of the project’s successful outcomes and ongoing work is highlighted below.
- A landmark victory in 2014 in an appeal called Commonwealth v. Pon where the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) replaced a harsh and unreasonably-high burden of proof for sealing of records with a “good cause” standard. The new standard provides countless people with a chance to seal their records, get jobs, support their children, and live productive lives without the lifetime stigma of CORI. The SJC also sanctioned the use of a less burdensome one-hearing process.
- Successfully advocated that the Boston Municipal Court (BMC) issue Standing Order 1-09 which permits judges in one division of the BMC to seal cases in the other seven divisions of the BMC, eliminating the hardship for people who would otherwise have to travel to many courthouse to seal their criminal records.
- Successfully advocated for CORI legislative reform with other groups in 2010. GBLS staff testified at the Massachusetts State House as part of a labor union panel (AFL-CIO and SEIU) on the need for CORI reform. The CORI & Re-entry Project suggested provisions that the past Governor included in his CORI reform bill which were adopted in the final legislation. As a result, cases dismissed after probation are no longer treated like convictions and can be sealed by a judge without a waiting period.
- Successfully advocated that the Roxbury Division of the BMC to schedule all newly-filed CORI sealing petitions once per month on the same day and hold a single hearing process instead of a two hearing process. This permits GBLS to represent the majority of people sealing records in the Roxbury Division. Replacing the two hearing process also made the process less burdensome for clients.
- Successful appeal in 2011 of the Quincy Court’s denial of a sealing petition without a hearing which led to the Court changing its systemic practice of denying most petitions without a hearing.
- GBLS works on state agency systemic problems including addressing difficulties that individuals have obtaining their own CORI reports, overbroad professional licensing applications that request information about sealed records, inclusion of certain juvenile records on CORI reports, the need for additional CORI legislation, and other issues.
- GBLS provides community legal education with the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, Roxbury Community College, and other community groups.
- GBLS co-chairs the new City of Boston CORI “roundtable” that brings together city department staff, police, and community service providers to improve services, reduce discrimination against people with CORI in city hiring, foster collaborations, and accountability.