Canada should make it easier to pardon criminal convictions, says new coalition

Canadians convicted of a crime currently have to wait at least 10 years after serving their sentence to obtain a pardon. And a pardon doesn’t remove a criminal conviction – it just makes the information more publicly available.

“People don’t realize how compromised someone with a criminal record is, how marginalized they are,” says defense attorney Ralph Mastromonaco, who says 70% of people with criminal records are criminals. non-violent primaries.

“People think it’s a job limit, but there’s more to it. This person is stigmatized to be a criminal.

A new coalition pushing for change said most big companies and governments would not hire a potential candidate solely on the basis of having a criminal record.

So it’s hard for a former convict, even one convicted of a minor offence, to find the kind of job that keeps people from re-offending.

People with criminal records are generally barred from volunteering and may also face discrimination in housing.

“Social science evidence shows that having a job and employment is a powerful protective factor against recidivism,” said Laura Berger, a lawyer with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

“We know that income and the prosocial behaviors and networks that are fostered by employment have a significant impact, so having a job is one of the main factors in preventing recidivism.”

The Coalition Nouveau Départ brings together more than 85 associations campaigning for civil liberties in Canada. He is currently pushing a reform bill currently being initiated by the Senate, which would still require approval by the House of Commons.

It provides for expungement from the criminal record two years after the end of a sentence for minor offences, and five years for more serious crimes carrying longer sentences, called indictable offences.

Visible minorities are particularly affected by the rehabilitation process. The high legal fees to obtain a pardon and the complexity of the process put it out of reach for many reformed offenders.

“It’s hard enough to find gainful employment,” said Joan Lee of the West Island Black Community Association.

“When you have this strike against you, well, it becomes another strike against you. Reform is therefore absolutely necessary with this.

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