The insidious use of background checks in employment, licensure, housing, and education is yet another example of the perpetual punishment endured by millions of Americans who have conviction records. The user-friendly design of this guide is intended to help people with conviction records navigate individual, institutional, and systemic barriers erected by the practice of background checks. While many valuable guides exist that help people with convictions understand their legal rights, this guide is unique because it aims to help people develop their own narrative. This guide is a continuation of our work to support people with convictions in navigating barriers to education and economic opportunity. Last year, we released Getting to Work with a Criminal Record: New York State License Guides (2020 Expanded Edition), which explains the process for obtaining licenses in 25, high-demand occupations and professions for people with conviction records. We remain committed to increasing access to opportunity for the millions of people impacted by the criminal legal system.
Mourning Our Losses is a crowd-sourced memorial to honor the lives of people who died in prisons, jails, and immigration detention facilities in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. We remember the lives of people who died from exposure to abominable public health conditions, as residents and as employees. Mourning Our Losses seeks to restore dignity to the faces and stories behind the statistics of death and illness from behind bars. We believe that a loss of any human life warrants mourning. We are united in our effort to honor our fallen brothers and sisters by telling their stories. We offer a platform for grief, healing, community, and reflection for all those touched by this preventable tragedy.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education announced the Second Chance Pell (SCP) experiment under the Experimental Sites Initiative, which allows incarcerated students who would be eligible for Pell Grants—a form of federal financial aid—if they were not incarcerated to access them while attending an eligible academic program offered by one of the colleges participating in the experiment. But filing for financial aid while incarcerated can be a formidable challenge. Drawing on the experiences of the first group of SCP colleges, this toolkit, drafted in collaboration with the Chemeketa Community College, is designed to aid new and existing participants as they guide students through the complexities of filing for federal financial aid in prison, including completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA.