There are currently more than 450,000 people incarcerated for nonviolent offences. Second chances are important, and the criminal justice system should promote second chances for individuals who are convicted of a nonviolent crime. However, the criminal justice system does not spend enough time or resources in helping those who have been incarcerated become a productive member of society.
For individuals who have been incarcerated, gaining a second chance to become productive members of our communities can be a challenging affair. The odds are stacked against those with a criminal record, from gaining accommodation, to gaining a job and excelling in our community. One organisation that is determined to help nonviolent offences gain a second chance is Clean Slate Milwaukee.
Clean Slate Milwaukee works with non-violent offenders to put their lives back together. The organization helps non-violent offenders get a second chance through criminal record expungement. By performing this service, it enables people to get their lives back through a second chance.
We decided to speak to the organisation and learn more about them. This is what they had to say.
1. First of all, please introduce yourself?
My name is Shanyeill McCloud and I’m the founder of Clean Slate Milwaukee and Clean Slate Wisconsin. I’m a survivor of domestic violence and the only way I was able to survive was by fighting back. But fighting back landed me with my first and only conviction. A conviction that cost me everything ( my career, my home, and almost children. So when I learned about impingement in 2007 I became possessed with the idea of getting my life back. I started Clean Slate in 2012, and became a non-profit organization called second Chance Staffing in 2014.
2. Can you explain what Second Chance Staffing Services was launched? Launched 2013 Incorporated as a non-profit in 2014.
3. You provide a Re-entry Resources Hub that helps directly impacted men and women connect to career opportunities as an effort to reduce joblessness and homelessness, crime, and recidivism in the city of Milwaukee. How much success have you had? CleanSlate has been very successful and changing the way expungement is done in the city of Milwaukee and now the state of Wisconsin. Clean Slate was the first expungement service inside of the department of workforce development and the W-2 office as a welfare to work program. It is now apart of job/ career resource fairs and we were the first to provide criminal record expungement services to the homeless community at an event called the homeless connect where we were able to help 34 people get their records expunged and connect 212 people with employment and other self-sustaining resources.
4. So, what type of people does your organization help? We help people that are diligently seeking employment housing and opportunity to improve themselves through higher education but are restricted because of their password even though it may be nonviolent and decades ago.
5. Do you believe that those people who did not manage to get an education at school are more likely to turn to crime? Yes, it’s not always the case but when a person is held back in school, they don’t always feel involved or included and sometimes result to bad behavior especially if they’re in a toxic environment.
6. What is the answer to make sure that everyone receives the same level of education, and the same chances in life? That’s pretty open-ended, but my first suggestion will be to allow people to compete based off of skills talent and experience and not be disqualified because of an unfortunate mistake that resulted into having a criminal record. There’s drugs on college campuses but everyone is not arrested and certainly everyone is in sentenced the same there is many areas and where racism exist and colleges and Universities are definitely some of them.
7. Some people say, getting a good education is like a lottery, it all depends on where you live, would you agree with that? Yes, I wouldn’t say the lottery though because this will actually take hard work on a person’s behalf but the discrimination should never be there to stop them.
8. How hard is it to get someone who has a criminal record matched up with an employer? Without Second Chance Staffing Services I would imagine it’s quite difficult because those two demographics of people don’t normally be in the same circles. So second Chance Staffing and clean slate Milwaukee are connectors. Introducing companies that need workers to hard workers looking for companies to work for and provide for their families.
9. You are the only Staffing organization in the state of Wisconsin that has an in-house criminal record expungement service to help remove the barriers to employment, housing, education, volunteering, etc. Why was it important to you to offer that service? Because workforce development in its entirety is more than just about a person landing the job. It’s about the overall stability and the ability to maintain that position in order to have an impact. So for example you can give a person a job but if they’re homeless the chances of them retaining that job is very slim. Also, when it’s time to move up to management and advancing in the companies it’s important to have a clean record or you’re spending a lifetime at the bottom because of the glass ceilings that exist.
10. What can be done to convince more employers that those people who have made a mistake in their life deserve a second chance? Wisconsin has work opportunity tax credits (WOTC) that employers can take advantage of for hiring ex-felons, veterans, and individuals receiving government assistance. It’s an incentive to hire formerly incarcerated people and people that have been out of the workforce for some time. It’s a perfect way to grow your company while providing opportunities and decreasing poverty violence in their communities.
11. What would you say to someone who has made a mistake in their life and thinks that no one will ever give them a second chance? I’d have to say it would really depend on the industry that you’re looking to work in because the truth is some industries such as the trucking or automotive industries don’t care about records but in industries such as education healthcare or child care is where your criminal record will come into play.
12. You are doing your part in helping people gain a second chance, but what more can the politicians do to help? Every year for the last 6 years the GOP has stalled and not allowed our bill to come to the floor even though we have overwhelming support from the business community the state representative passing 95 to 0 and it gets to the Republican caucus and die every year.
13. It is obvious to me, that if people are given a second chance, then there would be less crime, more people in work, and less broken families, so what can be done to get that message out there to the people in power? I’m hoping to do this through this action by sending a press release out to the world to let them know what’s going on here in Wisconsin and how they are holding up hundreds of thousands of people getting a second chance because they want to play politics and serve their own interests meanwhile they’re all constituents are suffering as well.
14. If you could have a meeting with Joe Biden, what would you say to him, to convince him more should be done to help people who have struggled in life? One of the last things Barack Obama did when leaving office is established a clean slate initiative. It was a 25-day expungement project that updated the expungement, voting rights, and collateral consequences of the disenfranchise. I will ask Lie biden to fund those programs to make sure that they are operating in full capacity. Making sure that we continue Barack Obama’s vision to remove the collateral consequences of criminal convictions and making sure that people that want to work have the same opportunity to work as everyone else.
Since 2012, Clean Slate Milwaukee has worked with clients to expunge over 2,200 records. It has helped over 1,189 former felons find work and assisted over 250 people get back into education to pursue a productive future. Clean Slate Milwaukee removes the barriers to success. It puts individuals, families, and communities on the path to a productive future.
For more information on Clean Slate Milwaukee or to see how it can help you, please visit https://cleanslatemke.org/.