The Ohio Justice & Policy Center’s Second Chance Community Legal Clinic
The Ohio Justice and Policy Center’s (OJPC) Second Chance Community Legal Clinic works to help individuals remove legal criminal record-based barriers to employment, housing, and civic participation. The Hamilton County Public Defender’s Fresh Start Clinic focuses exclusively on criminal-record sealing (“expungement”). OJPC’s clinic handles the many other legal issues, described below, that arise from having a criminal record. For more in-depth information about criminal record issues, please see our criminal records manual found here. A schedule of our free, walk-in clinic hours is found here.
Certificates That Remove Job Barriers
Certificates of Achievement & Employability (CAEs) and Certificates of Qualification for Employment (CQEs)Many Ohioans think of criminal-record sealing (“expungement”) as the only way to overcome the civil impacts (“collateral consequences”) of a criminal conviction. In 2011 and 2012, however, the Ohio General Assembly created two new certificates that also remove employment-related barriers without erasing or hiding the criminal record itself.
The certificates are a good option for people who are trying to:
- Obtain certain state occupational licenses or certificates, but whose record is holding them back;
- Work in facilities that serve vulnerable populations (hospitals, schools, daycares, nursing homes, etc.), but who have not been able to find employment or have lost employment because of their record;
- Find work despite their criminal record, but are ineligible to have their record sealed (“expunged”).
Certificates of Achievement and Employability (“CAEs”) and Certificates of Qualification for Employment (“CQEs”) have the same two legal effects but are used in different situations. First, the Certificates remove mandatory employment-related bars created by state law that prevent people with criminal records from obtaining an occupational license or working in facilities that serve “vulnerable populations” (hospitals, schools, daycares, nursing homes, etc.). Second, employers who hire Certificate holders are protected from negligent-hiring liability. This removes the fear of litigation that often dissuades businesses from hiring people with criminal records.
Inaccurate Background ChecksThe Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the private background check industry to keep their reports up-to-date and accurate when they are used by a potential employer. However, in some cases background check companies continue to report out-of-date, inaccurate information. Common problems with background checks include:
- Reporting sealed (“expunged”) cases;
- Reporting cases that do not belong to individual getting check;
- Reporting the offense charged instead of offense of conviction (Eg. reporting a case as a felony when it was pled down to a misdemeanor)
Clemency/ Pardons Pardons are an “extraordinary remedy” where the Governor “forgives” a conviction or convictions. A pardon, if granted, will put a person in the same legal position as if the offense(s) never occurred. Pardons, however, involve a lengthy process and are not routinely granted. Though there are no strict rules for who will be granted a pardon, people with older cases, who can show they have truly changed their lives and are still affected by their criminal records may be good applicants.
Other Criminal Record-Related IssuesThe Second Chance Community Legal Clinic can assist people with other criminal record-related legal issues on a case-by-case basis. For more information, please come to one of our free, walk-in clinics.