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Serving Homeless Clients with Criminal Justice "Issues": Slowing the Revolving Door Stephan Haimowitz, JD Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project US Dept.

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Presentation on theme: "Serving Homeless Clients with Criminal Justice "Issues": Slowing the Revolving Door Stephan Haimowitz, JD Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project US Dept."— Presentation transcript:

1 Serving Homeless Clients with Criminal Justice "Issues": Slowing the Revolving Door Stephan Haimowitz, JD Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project US Dept. of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service Burton Blatt Institute Syracuse University Steven Samra, MPA Recovery Specialist, Center for Social Innovation

2 Disability, Homelessness & Criminal Justice Mental Illness & Substance Use –significant % of arrestees, county jail detainees, state prisoners Many stuck in the “revolving door” Increasingly Iraq/Afghanistan veterans –Research continues on the interplay between disability & crime Treatment/services are effective for many Criminogenic factors predominate for others Violence Perpetrators vs. victims

3 Stuck in the Revolving Door Homelessness –12% of prison population were homeless when arrested –Female Veterans: 3 times as likely as female non-Veterans Substance abuse –Largest cause of homelessness among single adults –25% Veterans aged met criteria (1.8 million) Mental Illness –20-25% of the homeless population Veterans –Poverty & homelessness rates exceed general population –Approximately 9% of jails and prison population

4 The System’s Components Arrest –Fingerprint = a record = a RAP Sheet –Pre-trial detention – local jail –States have different offense categories: felonies, misdemeanor… Adjudication –Issues of (a) evidence and (b) constitutional rights –Plea Bargaining – focus is sentence Sentencing –Probation instead of incarceration –State prison followed by parole

5 Impacts of a Criminal Record Numerous, significant, life-long –Voting –Government Benefits –Credit –Public and Private Housing –Child Custody /Adoption

6 Employment Barriers Applicant discloses record --> employer won’t hire Worker does not disclose --> fired for “false job application” Criminal records are increasingly available –public websites –private search companies –national credit reporting agencies

7 Debates About Impacts Data on re-offending vs. predicting individual behavior Protecting vulnerable populations If you can’t find work, can’t pay child support…

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9 What Serves the Public Interest? “The whole point is for someone who’s made a mistake to have a chance to reclaim their life.” - Judge Henry Kron, NY

10 2008 Second Chance Act: Lowering job barriers lowers recidivism.

11 Civil Rights Issues Arrests without conviction: “disparate impact” US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission –Informal Guidance Letters –Lawsuits in Maryland and Michigan

12 What Can Homeless Service Providers Do? 1.Connect with local diversion programs. – Liaise with criminal justice agencies – Participate in cross training 2.Help clients to address having “a record.” 3.Learn the strategies that work in your state.

13 What is diversion? Human services - criminal justice collaboration –Agencies often struggle serving many of the same people –Employment: key element in recovery yment/ yment/ Primary goal: Address the revolving door –Getting people into individualized treatment services: “different this time” –SAMHSA and other agencies fund a range of program models

14 Types of Diversion Programs Police, i.e. Memphis’ “Crisis Intervention Team” Predominant model Trained dispatchers and precinct /shift officers Local Jails Variable screening and referral mechanisms Duties handled by jail or community clinical staff

15 Specialized Courts Drug Courts –Largest number, most studied Mental Health Courts –Some advocates have objections Homeless Courts –Often related to “Stand Downs” Veteran Treatment Courts –Number is growing rapidly

16 Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery – Priority to Veterans SAMHSA Report and Recommendations (2008) –Use validated Screening instruments –Train front line criminal justice staff –Expand Peer Support –http://gainscenter.samhsa.gov/pdfs/veterans/CVTJS_Report.pdf.http://gainscenter.samhsa.gov/pdfs/veterans/CVTJS_Report.pdf Pilot Projects in 13 states (until 2013) –Strong peer component –State and Local Advisory Committees –Pilot expands state-wide over 5 years

17 Local Diversion Contacts –National GAINS Center, (800) 311-GAIN –Council on State Governments’ Consensus Project, (212)

18 Assisting Clients with “a Record” Expungment, Sealing, etc. –Rules & “waiting periods” vary widely between states –First step – obtain state RAP Sheet ‐ state ‐ info.htmlhttp://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/expungement/expungement ‐ state ‐ info.html Some states: law requires individualized consideration –Public employers and licensing –Private employers

19 Assist Clients with “a Record” Bonding Tax Incentives Prepare for job applications and interviews

20 Federal Bonding Program Bond gives employers incentive to hire “at risk” individuals –Covers loss up to $5K loss from employee dishonesty –Free to employer for 6 months, then she/he can purchase Sponsored by US Dept of Labor –Program information Program is state-operated –Contact info for State Coordinators –http://www.bonds4jobs.com/state-coordinators.htmlhttp://www.bonds4jobs.com/state-coordinators.html

21 Employer Tax Incentives Work Opportunity Tax Credit $2,400 for each new adult hire from a target group –Ex-felon hired w/in 1 year of conviction or release from prison. $4,800 for each new disabled veteran hire

22 Job Applications & Interviews Prepare clients to handle the criminal record question –Do not leave application question blank or write “will discuss at interview” –Do practice interviews

23 Job Applications & Interviews Answer what is asked truthfully –know the differences - felony, offense, misdemeanor, disorderly person –conviction includes suspended sentence, fines, probation, parole Give a summary of the offense –Be brief, accept responsibility

24 Job Applications & Interviews Fully explain what’s changed & provide documentation Military service Rehabilitation/treatment Education/work Community service / church involvement Provide Federal Bonding info State coordinator’s name, phone and Program form and description Not hired? Send letter, review above, seek reconsideration

25 For Clients Who are Veterans Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project –US Dept of Labor – Veterans Employment & Training Services Specialized programs –Homeless Female Veterans/Veterans with Families –Incarcerated Veterans Reintegration Project

26 Summing Up Some strategies and resources exist A “jobs approach” is slowly changing –“Ban the Box” –“Second Chance Act” – new federal policy, reentry grants – State governments looking at the evidence

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29 The Reality Escaping the “revolving door“?

30 Resources 2008 Second Chance Act –http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi- bin/bdquery/D?d110:1:./temp/~bdFPGW::|/home/LegislativeData.php?n=BSS;c=110http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi- bin/bdquery/D?d110:1:./temp/~bdFPGW::|/home/LegislativeData.php?n=BSS;c=110 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission –http://www.eeoc.gov/http://www.eeoc.gov/ SAMHSA resources –http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/cmhs/CommunitySupport/toolkits/emplo yment/http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/cmhs/CommunitySupport/toolkits/emplo yment/

31 Resources U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission –http://www.eeoc.gov/http://www.eeoc.gov/ SAMHSA resources –http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/cmhs/CommunitySupport/toolkits/emplo yment/http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/cmhs/CommunitySupport/toolkits/emplo yment/ National GAINS Center, Tel: (800) 311-GAIN

32 Resources Consensus Project. Tel: (212) –http://consensusproject.org/http://consensusproject.org/ Assisting Clients in the Hiring Process –Obtaining a RAP Sheet –State Specific Considerations

33 Resources Bonding Programs –Federal –State Employer Tax Incentives –http://www.dol.gov/http://www.dol.gov/

34 Resources Veterans Employment Resources –NVTAC (National Veterans Technical Assistance Center) –Department of Labor

35 Q&A Stephan Haimowitz, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project, US Dept. of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service; Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University Steven Samra, Recovery Specialist, Center for Social Innovation, Moderator: Justine Hanson, Deputy Project Director, Homelessness Resource Center,


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