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Allowing Felons to Work
October, 2015. Our America Initiative supports the growing, bipartisan effort to rollback the over-criminalization epidemic not only making criminals out of citizens engaged in unpopular but non-violent behavior, but also ruining their lives after completion of their sentence. Ninety career paths in Washington State are currently closed to highly trained individuals who also happen to have a criminal record. These people have paid their debt to society but now are unable to provide for their family's basic needs, such as food or housing. Statistically, those who have a steady job and are able to provide these needs are less likely to re-offend. Last session Rep. Walkinshaw introduced HB 1553, the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity Act (CROP), to allow those who've completed their sentence - with certain exemptions based on vulnerable populations - to apply for restoration of licenses for commercial fishing, cosmetology, and other trades. Developed by the Columbia Legal Services Institutions Project, CROP was endorsed by King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, the Washington Superior Court Judges Association, the Seattle Times, and the Tacoma News Tribune, among others. Many tribal nations already have similar legislation as part of their Reintegration Programs. While CROP passed the House and the Senate Law and Justice Committee, it never received a full Senate vote and thus must be reintroduced in the upcoming 2016 legislative session. You could help by emailing your Rep and Senator to ask them to introduce or support CROP. With Your donation and input from our Advisory Council, we could expand rollbacks of the Over-criminalization problem through more of our fifty state affiliates.