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March 20, 24

NEWS / Cincinnati Considers Proposal to Revamp Criminal Record Policies


Cincinnati's City Council is on the brink of potentially altering the trajectory of former low-level criminals by entertaining a proposal that could see the expungement of certain criminal records. Spearheaded by former City Councilmember Tamaya Dennard, the proposal aims to provide individuals with a second chance at reintegration into society, despite their past transgressions.

Dennard, who herself faced legal troubles in 2020, has since undergone a significant personal and professional transformation. After serving time in federal prison and subsequently being hired as the director of the Center for Employment Opportunities, Dennard has become a vocal advocate for reforming the city's approach to individuals with criminal records.

"If I had the opportunity to come back and re-enter society with an amazing job, why can't others have the same opportunity?" Dennard stated, as reported by Local 12 News.

The proposal brought forth by Dennard seeks to enact several key changes in how Cincinnati handles individuals with criminal backgrounds. Among these changes are automatic expungement of warrants and court no-shows older than seven years, the repeal of mandatory sentencing for certain convictions, and a reconsideration of the city's policy against hiring individuals within five years of a conviction.

Councilmember Scotty Johnson expressed support for studying the viability of Dennard's plan, emphasizing the importance of assisting individuals seeking to reintegrate into the community. "Ninety percent of people who unfortunately have stubbed their toe are coming back to the community," Johnson stated. "We gotta make sure weíre doing all we can to assist them."

The proposal has struck a chord with individuals like Todd, who found himself facing barriers to employment due to a conviction at a young age. Despite his past, Todd was given a chance by Dennard and highlights the importance of providing others with similar opportunities. "How do you expect anybody to feed themselves or take care of themselves? Or even want to have the willpower to keep going further?" Todd questioned.

However, the proposal is not without its critics. Some argue that leniency on criminal records may undermine the deterrent effect of punishment. Dennard, in response, underscores the necessity of offering individuals a chance at redemption. "If you lose your ability to get housing and get a job, youíre already punished," Dennard remarked. "So, the question becomes, how much do you want people to get punished? Is it punished to no end?"

Prosecutor Melissa Powers, surprisingly, voiced support for the proposal, emphasizing the importance of policies that foster second chances and promote the integration of individuals into the community.



 




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