Nearly 500,000 in jail without a conviction

Nearly half a million people in American jails have not been convicted of a crime. Van Jones blames our bail system. For more on the United States' sprawling criminal justice system, watch the CNN Film "American Jail" Sunday, July 1 at 8 p.m. ET.

Posted: Jun 28, 2018 3:01 PM
Updated: Jun 28, 2018 3:21 PM

We met Ronald Lewis in September 2017 and heard his desire to be a great dad and role model for his children. After being introduced to him by Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, he explained everything he had gone through. More than a decade ago, he was arrested when he warned his brother, who was selling drugs, that the cops were coming. Less than a month later, he was caught when he foolishly tried to shoplift.

These cases resulted in two misdemeanor convictions, with no jail time and probation that was terminated early. He didn't know it at the time, but that one bad month would haunt him for years to come. Even though Lewis matured and took on family responsibilities, his criminal record caused him to be turned away from countless jobs for which he was otherwise qualified. As he has said, "So many doors have been shut in my face, I know what wood tastes like."

Many others like Lewis have had brushes with police that led to their getting arrested, like the two men doing nothing more than waiting at a Philadelphia Starbucks in April. Even if the charges are dropped, the arrest stays on their record, unless they find a lawyer to file an expungement petition. They lose jobs, too. We met Lewis last September after we learned about Pennsylvania's proposed Clean Slate Act, legislation that could help people like Lewis. We could hear the remorse in his voice. It is only common sense to give people a second chance.

According to the Center for American Progress, between 70 million and 100 million — or as many as one in three Americans — have some kind of criminal record. While definitions of "criminal record" vary from someone who has been arrested on a felony charge (the FBI's definition) to someone who has been charged and convicted, a large number of employers conduct criminal background checks that may reveal information that impacts job candidates' chances. For many Americans with any kind of record, the reality they face every single day is the door being shut in their faces.

Nearly 9 in 10 employers say they perform criminal background checks on all or some job candidates, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. One case study shows 4 in 5 landlords use criminal background checks in rental screenings. One in 5 colleges and universities conduct criminal background checks on certain applicants, according to the Center for Community Alternatives.

Even the most minor criminal records, like ones that stem from possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct or being falsely accused, can haunt someone for life, causing them to miss out on access to jobs, housing and education. This is a problem with national scope, but as players who have lived and worked in the Philadelphia community, we are especially aware of its impact in the state of Pennsylvania. Old, minor criminal records contribute to keeping hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians trapped in poverty, with opportunity just out of reach.

Fortunately, there's a plan in the works that would be a game-changer for people with minor criminal records. The Clean Slate Act, proposed legislation that has support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Pennsylvania Legislature, would use technology to automatically seal charges that did not lead to convictions, along with some nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, after 10 years. That means that employers, landlords and schools wouldn't be able to see these minor records. People who need opportunities would be judged by who they really are, not by their old mistakes.

Even better, all Pennsylvanians would benefit from a Clean Slate program. People with minor records would better be able to provide for their families and contribute to their communities. Employers would be able to hire the best people possible, based on their skills and their potential. Neighborhoods where large percentages of people are shut out of the labor force by their records and our entire economy would thrive.

Clean Slate is such a good idea that people from very different perspectives agree on it. Chambers of Commerce from around the state, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, conservative organizations like FreedomWorks, liberal organizations like the Center for American Progress, and many others support the bill. And yes, so does the Players Coalition, of which we are members.

National organizations across the ideological spectrum are supporting this measure because they see its potential to have a substantial positive impact not just in Pennsylvania, but across the country. Efforts to replicate the model are underway in red and blue states as diverse as Michigan, Colorado and South Carolina. Federal policymakers are starting to take note as well. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, has announced her intention to introduce federal legislation similar to the Pennsylvania bill.

Clean Slate is a simple solution that can help solve a huge problem, but it can't happen without more people getting involved. The Pennsylvania House and Senate have passed separate versions of the bill with overwhelming support. Now we need our legislators to agree on a single final version. Pennsylvanians need to call their legislators, and residents of other states need to ask theirs to start exploring a Clean Slate program where they live and work.

We need to stand up for people like Lewis who need a second chance by calling our representatives and asking them to encourage their leadership to agree on a final bill to send to the governor before they leave for the summer. Clean Slate won't fix everything, but it's a critical step forward.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 26980

Reported Deaths: 1159
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin9099657
Ramsey3351149
Stearns205614
Nobles15775
Anoka152779
Dakota144664
Washington70035
Olmsted68911
Rice5243
Kandiyohi5141
Scott4712
Clay44930
Mower4462
Wright3492
Todd3441
Sherburne2492
Carver2402
Benton1853
Steele1700
Freeborn1590
Blue Earth1490
Martin1355
St. Louis11914
Lyon1012
Unassigned9611
Pine930
Nicollet8811
Cottonwood820
Winona8115
Crow Wing815
Watonwan790
Carlton750
Goodhue736
Otter Tail731
Chisago691
Polk632
Itasca5610
Dodge540
Chippewa521
Morrison480
Le Sueur471
Douglas460
Meeker460
Becker440
Jackson420
Murray410
McLeod410
Isanti360
Pennington300
Waseca290
Mille Lacs241
Rock230
Faribault220
Wabasha200
Swift191
Beltrami180
Sibley170
Brown172
Fillmore171
Norman150
Pipestone130
Kanabec121
Aitkin120
Marshall120
Cass112
Big Stone110
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Redwood70
Yellow Medicine70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Red Lake40
Traverse40
Grant40
Clearwater30
Houston30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21114

Reported Deaths: 593
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4614140
Woodbury286137
Black Hawk178849
Buena Vista10672
Linn97879
Dallas95226
Marshall91418
Wapello63615
Johnson6198
Muscatine56741
Crawford5512
Tama41129
Scott38510
Dubuque35921
Louisa35011
Pottawattamie31910
Sioux3060
Jasper26917
Wright2210
Washington1968
Warren1671
Plymouth1522
Story1311
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9913
Poweshiek928
Hamilton760
Webster741
Henry732
Boone720
Bremer716
Clarke690
Des Moines681
Taylor660
Clinton651
Guthrie553
Cedar501
Benton431
Cherokee410
Monroe415
Jones370
Shelby370
Osceola360
Jefferson360
Marion350
Dickinson350
Buchanan341
Iowa340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Madison292
Lee290
Sac280
Davis280
Emmet270
Fayette270
Clay270
Monona260
Harrison260
Hardin240
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Lucas222
Mills200
Grundy200
Franklin200
Humboldt201
Pocahontas200
Delaware191
Floyd191
Hancock180
Appanoose173
Butler161
Kossuth160
Carroll151
Ida150
Greene150
Keokuk140
Jackson140
Page140
Audubon131
Cass130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Winnebago110
Calhoun100
Union100
Van Buren90
Adair90
Montgomery92
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Unassigned20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Rochester
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