Saturday, May 28, 2016

Study shows certificates work to create job opportunities

Again, not really SO related but it is still relevant

Study shows certificates work to create job opportunities
May 25, 2016 Joshua Gaines

A new empirical study [CLICK HERE for the study] provides important evidence that “certificates of recovery/relief” can be effective in facilitating employment opportunities for people with a criminal record.  Two University of South Carolina criminologists have concluded that employers in Ohio are willing to look beyond the criminal histories of job applicants who have been issued a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) from a state court. The study, which involved sending fictitious resumes to over 300 employers in the Columbus area, found that individuals with a felony drug conviction were more than three times as likely to receive a job interview or offer if they had received a CQE.

Although the study’s findings are described as preliminary, they fill an important gap in our knowledge of the effectiveness of Ohio’s CQE, and by inference of similar certificate schemes in other jurisdictions.  Such schemes have to date been justified on the basis of assumptions and anecdotal evidence, with little hard data to vouch for their potency.  The abstract follows:

Securing stable, quality employment is one of the most robust predictors of desistance from offending. Yet, obtaining gainful employment is difficult for ex-offenders due to the stigma of a criminal record. In recognition of employment-related barriers to re-entry, some state legislatures have created certificates of recovery/relief, which lift occupational licensing restrictions, limit employer liability for negligent hiring claims, and aim to ensure employment decisions about certificate-holders are made on a case-by-case basis. The present study presents the results of the first empirical test of the effectiveness of such certificates. Using an experimental correspondence design, fictitious applicants applied to entry-level jobs advertised in the Columbus metropolitan area using fabricated resumes with identical names, educational backgrounds, employment experience, and skills. Because the only differences between the resumes were the type of criminal record and the presence of a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE), the results isolate the specific impacts of criminal records and certificates on employment opportunities. Results indicate that, for job seekers with a one-year-old felony drug conviction, having a certificate of recovery increases the likelihood of receiving an interview invitation or job offer more than threefold. Importantly, certificate-holders and their counterparts with clean criminal backgrounds were equally likely to receive an interview invitation or job offer.

These promising results, while only a small sample, suggest that certificates of recovery/relief may be an effective avenue for lessening the stigma of a criminal record for ex-offenders seeking employment.  The findings are striking because even though an Ohio CQE removes mandatory collateral consequences and protects employers from negligent hiring claims, Ohio law (unlike New York’s) does not require employers to give CQEs any effect at all.  It seems, then, that “forgiveness-based” models of criminal record mitigation, which acknowledge a person’s criminal history while appropriately contextualizing it, can do far more to enhance employment prospects than many have supposed.  The results of the study may be surprising to those who favor a “forgetfulness-based” model, which relies on limiting public access to a person’s criminal history.

Similar judicial certificate schemes exist in California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York (whose certificate has served as a model for many states), North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Vermont.  Though the legal effect of these certificates varies widely from state to state, they are generally intended to serve as an official acknowledgment of rehabilitation that can be relied upon by employers.  (Our 50-state comparison of the consideration of criminal records in licensing and employment, available here, provides an overview and comparison of the certificate laws of each state.  Further detail can be found in individual state profiles.)

Although there is no federal certificate law, U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson (now retired) crafted and issued his own Certificate of Rehabilitation earlier this year in lieu of expunging the conviction of a woman he had sentenced years earlier who was unable to find lasting employment.  Judge Gleeson wrote in his order:

The forgiveness model, which preserves the public record of a conviction, is gaining favor in the reentry community for both functional and philosophical reasons. . . . Where expungement relief is unavailable or otherwise unhelpful, I believe a certificate of rehabilitation can significantly alleviate the collateral effects of a criminal record by emitting a powerful signal that the same system that found a person deserving of punishment has now found that individual fit to fully rejoin the community.

Although the University of South Carolina study gives reason for optimism that employers in states with robust certificate schemes are receiving these “powerful signals” and acting accordingly, the national picture may not be quite so rosy.  Recent studies on the effectiveness of New York’s certificate scheme that were based on anecdotal and interview evidence suggest that the state’s certificates are falling short when it comes to encouraging employment opportunities, notwithstanding the independent effect given them in New York’s nondiscrimination law.

You can read more about Ohio’s Certificate of Qualification for Employment (and other Ohio relief mechanisms) in our Ohio guide to restoration of rights.  Our 50-state comparison of the consideration of criminal records in licensing and employment, available here, provides an overview and comparison of the certificate laws of each state.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sex-Trafficking Stat Check: How 45 Toledo Teens Become '1,000 Child Sex-Trafficking Victims'

Turns out Ohio's claim of being a cesspool of human trafficking is untrue. I'm not surprised.

Sex-Trafficking Stat Check: How 45 Toledo Teens Become '1,000 Child Sex-Trafficking Victims'

Officials claim that more than 1,000 Ohio children are "trafficked into the sex trade each year." Here's why they're wrong.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown|May. 26, 2016 8:05 am

Every year some 1,000 new children are trafficked for sex in Ohio, while an additional 3,000 remain "at risk" of being trafficked, according to U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty.

The Ohio Democrat was one of four federal lawmakers gathered Wednesday to talk about the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA), a 2015 measure that they claim isn't getting enough respect from the Department of Justice (DOJ). For instance, the DOJ has not provided lawmakers with data that JVTA mandated concerning human-trafficking arrests and convictions. "We do need accurate data on this," said Republican Rep. Ann Wagner (Mo.) Wednesday. So, in the spirit of accurate data, I asked Rep. Beatty where her child sex-trafficking statistics came from.

I was told they came from a report commissioned by the Ohio Attorney General's office. The only such report comes from 2010 and was prepared by the Ohio Trafficking in Persons Study Commission, a group commissioned by then-Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and comprised of two professors, the U.S. District Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and representatives from city and county law-enforcement units, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the nonprofit Not for Sale. And it is, to put it mildly, a mess.

"To identify the number of [Ohio] youth ... who are at-risk for child sex trafficking and have become victims in the sex trade, the research team identified risk factors that included" homelessness, running away from home, and other "vulnerability factors," the committee states in an executive summary. By youth, minor, adolescent, or child sex trafficking victims, the committee means "those between the ages of 12 and 17" who "traded sex for money, items, drugs, food, or a place to stay." Ultimately, the committee arrived at the very specific-sounding estimates of 2,879 American-born adolescents "at-risk" for sex trafficking each year in Ohio and "1,078 youth [who] have been trafficked into the sex trade over the course of a year."

Let's start by examining the latter figure, which is often presented—by lawmakers like Beatty and local media—as a reliable accounting of actual victims in Ohio. At the root is an FBI-led operation that took place in Toledo and its surrounding county between 2005 and 2009, called "Operation Innocence Lost."

A precursor to today's expanded "Operation Cross Country," Operation Innocence Lost was established "in 14 cities with the highest incidence of child prostitution," according to an 2005 FBI press release. The city of Toledo, located in Lucas County, was one of them. It's also a city with a decaying economy and one of the highest crime rates in the region. According to 2013 FBI crime data, it's the ninth-most dangerous metropolitan area in the Midwest, number one in Ohio, and 49th in the entire United States. 

In the course of Operation Innocence Lost, agents from the FBI, the Toledo Police Department, and the Lucas County Sheriff's Office identified "60 minor victims of sex trafficking." Forty-five—an average of 15 per year—came from Lucas County. It's this number from which the committee extrapolated for all of Ohio. Using Lucas County population data, the researchers arrive at the conclusion that 15 per 24,965 Ohio girls ages 12 through 17—or 0.0006 percent—are "successfully recruited into the sex trade from Ohio each year."

With 337,961 Ohio girls in this age group overall, that 0.06 percent rate yields an estimate of... 202 per year. How do we get from there to 1,078 victims—especially considering that Toledo has (according to the FBI's own data) more violent-crime and underage-prostitution problems than almost anywhere else in Ohio? Simple: Rather than acknowledge that extrapolating from Toledo might yield an inflated statewide estimate, the committee multiplies the Toledo number by five.

The basis for this decision was a study from the University of Toledo of Lucas County minors engaged in prostitution. That study claims that every minor talked to by researchers knew an average of 5 more underage minors "that were not known to law enforcement, but who were engaging in the sex trade." From the committee report (emphasis mine): 

Because of the underground social networks, many girls involved know each other by their street names or nick names. In actuality, they may be unaware of which girls are engaging the Innocence Lost Task Force and not engaging the Task Force. But because other communities in Ohio do not have a focused Innocence Lost Task Force, the team decided the estimates provided by the victims may be an accurate measure for other communities throughout Ohio. Therefore, in using this as a measure for Ohio, we find that there may be over 1,000 girls per year in Ohio that are involved in the sex trade.

For estimating the number of 12- to 17-year-old Ohio boys, the committee uses a somewhat different (and even sloppier) method. Because being gay, transgender, or a runaway are "risk factors" for male sex-trade involvement, and because three to five percent of the overall U.S. population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, the committee decides that three to five percent of male runaways who go missing for more than two weeks probably become trafficking victims. This gives us an estimated 63 underage male victims, for a total estimate of 1,078 trafficked adolescents in the state. 

If you can believe it, the committee's method for estimating "at risk" Ohio youth gets even less scientific and relies on even more half-baked assumptions. 

Remember, the state claims that 2,879 American-born adolescents in Ohio are "at-risk" of becoming trafficking victims each year. To arrive at this conclusion, committee members "relied heavily" on the methodology from a 2001 study on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the United States.

That study, conducted by Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner, has since been widely discredited. The respected Crimes Against Children Research Center implored people to please stop citing its numbers. Its conclusions have been debunked by outlets such as The Washington Post. The study's own author, Estes, no longer stands by the research. And even the Ohio committee that relies heavily on it admits, in the same report, that the study is plagued by "many shortcomings and obvious flaws." 

To arrive at a nationwide estimate of "at risk" youth, Estes and Weiner came up with 14 factors they said increased the chances of an adolescent entering or being forced into the sex trade. These included things such as involvement with child protective services or the foster care system, a personal history of depression, a recurrent illness in the family, being a member of a sexual minority, female gang involvement, living in communities where "pre-existing prostitution markets existed" or "a large number of street youths gather," and living in the presence of "sexually unattached and transient males including military personnel, truckers, conventioneers, and tourists."

Based on the estimated prevalence of these risk factors, Estes and Weiner claim that one quarter of one percent of all American youth are "at risk." With 675,922 minors between the ages of 12 and 17 in Ohio, a 0.25 percent risk rate yields an estimated 1,690 "at risk" Ohio adolescents. 

But the committee doesn't stop there. Following in Estes' and Weiner's footsteps, they add to this number two separate (and equally dubious) estimates. Remember, the 0.25 percent risk rate was for all adolescents. Risk is higher, claimed the researchers, for homeless youth and runaways. How much higher? Estes and Weiner had declared that 35 percent of "endangered runaways"—defined as youth who leave home without permission and stay away overnight—risk commercial sexual exploitation if they are gone for more than one week. Using numbers on endangered runaways from Ohio, the committee gets an estimated number of 1,070 at-risk runaways. 

They then turn to homeless youth. A 2001 study of 455 homeless youth in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas found that around 20 percent said they had traded sexual favors for a place to stay. Applying this 20 percent calculation not to the number of homeless youth in Ohio but to the number of adolescents who went missing for two weeks or longer ("for the period of time the youth is gone, they are technically homeless," states the Ohio report) the committee concludes that 1,261 homeless Ohio minors are at risk. 

To arrive at a final number, the committee combined these various estimates, for a total of 4,021. Because two of these figures were derived from the same population (runaways missing for more than two weeks), and the other from all Ohio adolescents, the committee admits there might be some overlap in their estimates. For no precise reason, they decide that 25 percent may be duplicates, and reduce the 4,021 estimate by a quarter. From here, they arrive at the conclusion that some 2,879 Ohio 12- to 17-year-olds are "at risk" of being victimized by sex traffickers each year. 

Ohio Rep. Beatty is far from the only one to quote these figures, which appear routinely in Ohio media—including major city newspapers such as The Columbus Dispatch, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Dayton Daily News—and government statements as hard facts (i.e., "1,000 children are trafficked in Ohio each year"). But as someone leading an effort for better federal data on sex trafficking, Beatty might want to look a bit more closely at the data she herself cites, and demand better data from her home state. 

The Dispatch and other outlets also claim that among these alleged 1,000 children who "fall victim to human sex trafficking" each year in Ohio, the average age is 12 or 13 years old. In fact, 12 was the very youngest age included in the Ohio Attorney General's study, and the youngest (and most rare) age of any minor recovered nationally throughout Operation Innocence Lost. A report from the Ohio Human Trafficking Commission that looked at identified, not theoretical, victims from Ohio in 2015 found a total of 203 alleged victims throughout the state. Around three percent were age 13 or younger, 11 percent 14- or 15-years-old, 15 percent 16- or 17-years-old, and 71 percent adults.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown is an associate editor at

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ohio Republicans want to wipe out bipartisan prison watchdog agency

Not directly related to our cause but it is a cause for concern.

Ohio Republicans want to wipe out bipartisan prison watchdog agency

By Alan Johnson
The Columbus Dispatch  •  Tuesday May 24, 2016 8:08 PM

An 11th-hour change by Ohio House Republicans would eliminate a bipartisan prison watchdog agency in business for nearly 40 years.

The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, established in 1977, would be abolished and replaced by the Joint State Correctional Inspection Committee in legislation expected to be approved Wednesday in the General Assembly.

The current eight-member committee has an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. The new committee would be dominated by the majority party, now Republicans.

The CIIC inspects and reports on adult and juvenile prisons and investigates a broad range of issues, from staffing and medical care to prison violence and inmate gangs. The agency's findings have often exposed flaws in the state prison systems. The agency director is Joanna Saul, who has a staff of five.

The new committee could only perform prison inspections with specific approval from the speaker of the House and president of the Senate, a dramatic departure from the investigative autonomy the committee now enjoys. A majority of members would have to be present to make an inspection.

State Rep. Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell, chairman of the House Finance Committee, said House and Senate leaders "feel like it's time to redefine this (agency), redirect its goals and narrow its focus."

Rep. Kevin Boyce, D-Columbus, complained about the change, saying it would "undercut what the CIIC was established to do."

Boyce said the Republican-directed change would "erase" what has always been a bi-partisan committee. He said the legislation should be considered in a separate bill, not jammed into unrelated legislation.

The CIIC has undergone several changes since it was created. Funding was eliminated for the agency in 2001 and restored in 2003.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Ohio court: sex offender registration law not retroactive

The only good thing about the AWA is that it allows some people to petition for removal from the registry after a number of years, while pre-AWA registrants lack that privilege. Ohio's Supreme Court already ruled the AWA could not be applied retroactively to classify registrants, so it cannot apply any of the good provisions retroactively, either.

Ohio court: sex offender registration law not retroactive

Associated Press
Published: May 18, 2016, 12:35 pm  Updated: May 18, 2016, 12:37 pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s Supreme Court says a 2008 law’s procedure allowing sex offenders to stop registering with authorities if they committed certain sexual offenses after the law was implemented doesn’t apply to offenders convicted under a previous law.

The court ruled 6-1 Wednesday in the case of Aaron Von, who moved to Ohio in 2011. Von cited the Adam Walsh Act that took effect in 2008 when asking a trial court to end registration requirements stemming from his conviction for sexually assaulting a child in Colorado in 1997.

Ohio’s highest court found Von is subject to requirements of the 1996 Megan’s Law that was replaced by the Adam Walsh Act in 2008. Megan’s Law didn’t provide for ending registration requirements.

Von’s attorney didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Below is a lengthier explanation of the case:

Sex-Offender Registration Termination Not Available for Pre-2008 Offenses
By Dan Trevas | May 18, 2016

The Ohio Supreme Court today ruled that a statutory procedure allowing sex offenders to terminate reporting requirements available to Adam Walsh Act (AWA) offenders who committed certain sexual offenses after the state’s 2008 implementation of the AWA is not available to Megan’s Law sex offenders who committed crimes prior to the 2008 implementation date.

A majority of the court voted to deny Aaron K. Von’s request to terminate his registration duties. He argued that even though he had been convicted of sexual assault of a child in 1997 in Colorado, an Ohio judge could allow him to end his reporting requirements based on the 2008 Ohio law. Writing for the majority, Justice Terrence O’Donnell stated that Von was subject to the requirements of the 1996 Megan’s Law, which had no provision for terminating a sex offender’s duty to comply with registration requirements.

Von Sought Change When He Moved to Ohio
Von moved to Ohio in 2011 and registered as a sex offender, but did not specify his classification. He requested that a trial court terminate his duty to comply with sex-offender registration citing R.C. 2950.15.

The state opposed the motion, claiming that R.C. 2950.15, the AWA, applies only to sex offenders convicted on or after Jan. 1, 2008. Citing the Ohio Supreme Court’s 2011 State v. Williams opinion, prosecutors argued the statute could not be retroactively applied to Von. Von was convicted under Megan’s Law, which was repealed and replaced by the AWA, and did not contain a process to terminate the registration requirements that is currently part of the AWA.

Under Megan’s Law, Von was first classified as a sexually oriented offender, but was later classified as a sexual predator. While seeking to terminate his reporting requirements, Von also attempted to stop the state from changing his classifications under the AWA from a tier one sexually oriented offender to a tier three offender because only tier one offenders can apply for termination of the reporting requirements.

The trial court denied his motion to terminate registration because it found that Megan’s Law had no provisions to end reporting requirements and that subsequent amendments to the state law to implement the AWA were not retroactive.

Von appealed to the Eleventh District Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court in a split decision. The lead opinion concluded the law “expressly states that it applies to an offender regardless of when the offense was committed.” It indicated at the time of its ruling, the trial court had not yet determined if Von qualified as a tier one offender under the AWA’s classification but that if it did find him to be a tier one offender, it could consider the merits of Von’s argument that he is eligible to terminate his reporting requirements.

The state appealed that decision, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Application of Law Not Retroactive
Justice O’Donnell explained that the issue before the court was whether the procedures to relieve an AWA offender from the obligation to report applied to a Megan’s Law offender. The old law, designated as Megan’s Law, established a comprehensive system of classifying sex offenders into three categories: sexually oriented offenders, habitual sex offenders, and sexual predators. In contrast, the new law, the AWA, had new standards for sexual-offender classification and registration in conformity with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, and pursuant to R.C. Chapter 2950 offenders were divided into tier I, tier II, and tier III sex or child-victim offenders.

Justice O’Donnell wrote that the Court in the Williams case examined a provision of the AWA that was expressly made to be retroactive and added a punishment for those convicted before the act’s adoption. The Court found that provision violated the Ohio Constitution’s prohibition against the General Assembly’s passage of retroactive laws.

“Subsequently, we clarified only persons who commit their underlying offense on or after the effective date of the Adam Walsh Act can be constitutionally subjected to its requirements,” he wrote.

As noted by the appeals court, an “eligible offender” defined by R.C. 2950.15(A) does state that it applies to a person convicted or having pleaded guilty to a sexually oriented offense “regardless of when the offense was committed.” However, Justice O’Donnell emphasized the section also states that to be an eligible offender a person must also be a “tier I sex offender/child-victim offender.”

Justice O’Donnell pointed out that “regardless of when the offense was committed” provision does not by itself qualify an individual to be an eligible offender because the statute uses the conjunction “and,” which imposes the dual requirement that the person must also be a tier one offender, and Von has not been classified as a tier one offender.

Justice O’Donnell wrote that the provisions of the AWA cannot be constitutionally applied to sex offenders who committed their crimes before the 2008 effective date of the AWA.

“Notably, the legislature made no reference to Megan’s Law, which is indicative of its intent that those offenders are not eligible for termination of those registration duties,” he concluded.

The Court reversed the ruling of the Eleventh District, which held that Von had a right to seek to terminate his registration requirements. It affirmed the portion of the appeals court ruling that remanded the case to the trial court to determine the Megan’s Law classification for Von.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Sharon L. Kennedy, and Judith L. French joined the majority opinion.

Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger concurred in judgment only.

Justice William M. O’Neill dissented without a written opinion.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fair Treatment Reform Conference On Reentry, Sept. 10, 2016

Got this in my mailbox, may be worth a visit, even if it isn't directly registrant-related.

Fair Treatment Reform Conference On Reentry 

United Methodist Church
946 Parsons Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43206
September 10, 2016 1:30-6pm

This Conference is being held to bring awareness to the community of the obstacles and barriers that returning citizens face. And their need of the communities support to overcome. By having available the resources needed to obtain stability so that they may succeed.


Mike Davis- ODRC Reentry Director
Warden Norm Robinson- FMC
Commissioner Marilyn Brown
Elect Cassandra McDonald State Rep.
Bob Allen- Pros and Cons
Chaplain Tim Smith- Marion Correctional
Wendy Tarr
Jerome Mccorry

  There will be tables set up at this event with local community business's and community outreach programs with information available for the community. There is no charge for this event but the option is given to give donations that will help support our reentering citizens.

   Any questions, concerns or to reserve a table please contact:
James Kronenberger 614-404-4924 or email at
Angela Hatem 614-702-1288 or email at