Remarks by Ryan Hamilton, MCC Government Relations Associate, during the MN Second Chance Coalition Press Conference
The Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. We support enacting and enforcing laws that create safe communities, promote the common good, and foster true justice. MCC is proud to sponsor the Second Chance Coalition because we believe that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
We need public policies that limit the effects of the collateral consequences of an arrest or conviction.
When an individual breaks the law, we must seek justice. Justice for crime victims requires us to insist that those who break our laws be held responsible. At the same time, justice for our society means working for the rehabilitation and restoration of those break the law.
Each and every one of us possesses human dignity. Human dignity is not something we earn by our good behavior; it is something with which we are born. In addition to dignity, each of us are born with unique talents, gifts, and abilities that are intended to be shared.
Our inherent dignity and talents are immutable, which means they remain with us even when we violate the laws of society.
A collateral consequence of being arrested but not convicted is that the record continues to shadow the person and creates a barrier to social and economic opportunities. The impacted person is effectively banished to margins of society.
Unfortunately, some employers disqualify applicants based on a job application’s criminal-history inquiry without asking any further questions about reform, capability or fitness. How many Minnesotans are sitting on the sidelines of this job market because a low-level criminal offense is still plaguing them?
Marginalization doesn’t provide justice to society. It actually throws salt on the wound. As I’ve said, a persons talents gifts and abilities don’t evaporate just because they break a law or get arrested. So when we marginalize people and hold them in perpetual punishment we actual cut ourselves off from the contributions that impacted persons were put on this earth to make.
As we craft criminal justice policies, the test is whether we can hold individuals accountable while also honoring their dignity and God given potential. In order achieve the ends of rehabilitation and restoration we need to have easier expungements.
Reforms such as the Clean Slate Act bring us closer to true justice and we thank Rep Long and Senator Chamberlain for carrying the bills.
View the press conference : https://fb.watch/bwQzkGzOK3/
(Ryan Hamilton starts at around 5:40 in the video)