Kevin Werner

OJPC and Partners Launch Collateral Sanction Campaign

The Ohio Justice & Policy Center is collaborating with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Building Freedom Ohio and the Ohio Transformation Fund to create a multi-year campaign designed to combat collateral sanctions – the barriers experienced by people with criminal records. The partnership kicked off with a day-long listening meeting hearing from individuals whose lives have been harmed by the wide-reaching impacts of collateral sanctions for Ohioans with criminal convictions in May.
OJPC and partners created a survey of participants to pinpoint campaign priorities and to understand where directly impacted individuals have been most harmed by employment barriers, housing barriers and education and civic participation opportunities.
In June OJPC and partners gathered again to plan out initial campaign steps, identify allies and opponents to collateral sanction reforms and drill down on potential tactics. The campaign will invest in grassroots and legislative efforts led by people impacted by criminal convictions.
A 2018 report co-authored by OJPC and Policy Matters Ohio laid bare the scale and scope of collateral sanctions, Wasted Assets: The cost of excluding Ohioans with a record from work. Key findings included:
• Some 850 laws and administrative rules limit job opportunities for Ohioans with convictions who have already served their time.
• Around 1 in 4 Ohio jobs (1.3 million) is blocked or restricted for those with a conviction.
• Jobs affected by collateral sanctions pay $4,700 more on average and are growing at twice the rate of other jobs.
• The typical Ohioan out of work after serving time for a felony conviction lost $36,479 in wages in 2017. Total lost wages reached an estimated $3.4 billion across the state.
• Collateral sanctions prevent Ohioans with convictions from pursuing higher education.

“When Ohioans are routinely denied access to employment, small business loans, housing, education opportunities, and full participation in community life, we have to act,” said Kevin Werner, OJPC’s policy director. “Collateral sanctions are a policy choice. They don’t need to exist, but they do, and their impact is to forever punish people who have made mistakes. We can and will do something about that,” Werner noted.

One policy goal identified would include making Ohio a Clean Slate state, where criminal convictions would automatically be sealed after a period of time with no further contact with the criminal legal system. Clean Slate laws have been enacted in twelve states including Pennsylvania (2018), Utah (2019), New Jersey (2019), Michigan (2020), Connecticut (2020), Delaware (2021), Virginia (2021), Oklahoma (2022), Colorado (2022), California (2022), Minnesota (2023), and New York (2023). Efforts to bring legislation are ongoing in Missouri, North Carolina and Texas. We hope to soon add Ohio to that list.