Massachusetts reforms the state's CORI system


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On Friday, August 6, 2010, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into a law an anti-crime law that reforms the state's criminal offender records information system (CORI) to improve employment opportunities for former offenders. The law also aims to reduce recidivism by allowing non-violent offenders serving mandatory minimum sentences to receive supervision and training before being released into the community.

“The best way to break the cycle of recidivism is to make it possible for people to get a job,” said Governor Patrick. “This legislation brings our outdated criminal history database into the 21st century, ensures law enforcement agencies, employers and housing providers have access to accurate and complete records in appropriate circumstances, and helps people get back to work so they can support their families. I commend the Legislature for sending me this tough and smart anti-crime package.”

The CORI Reform bill enhances employment and
economic opportunities for citizens with criminal records, by sealing misdemeanor convictions after five years and felony convictions after 10 years, so long as there are no subsequent offenses. Murder and sex offenses will continue to remain visible in the system permanently.

Says Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, "This bill will provide new opportunities to those who have paid their debt to society while maintaining a strong focus on public safety."

Before the law was passed, many inmates were leaving the prison system with no training, supervision, or access to programs that would ease their re-entry into the community. The lack of support services contributed to high rates of recidivism. The newly-signed law allow some inmates imprisoned in Houses of Corrections for non-violent drug offenses the chance to be eligible for parole after serving half of their mandatory minimum sentence, if no "aggravating factors" are found. As a condition of this parole, inmates will have the opportunity to participate in education and training programs that will reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend following their release.

"This victory is the culmination of years of tireless work to bring the issue to the forefront and build support for change," said Wilnelia Rivera, Chair of the Commonwealth CORI Coalition and Neighbor to Neighbor Campaigns Director. "Today, our state has made good policy for public safety and our communities. CORI reform will stop the revolving door of recidivism, strengthen families, and cut costs to taxpayers in the process."