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: 63723

Reported Deaths: 1739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin20063845
Ramsey7904270
Dakota4670106
Anoka3891115
Stearns293520
Washington225548
Olmsted180923
Nobles17819
Scott166922
Mower11172
Rice10488
Blue Earth9606
Wright9395
Carver9153
Clay79540
Sherburne75810
Kandiyohi7251
St. Louis63620
Todd4312
Lyon4273
Watonwan3842
Freeborn3651
Nicollet36313
Steele3632
Benton3273
Winona27216
Beltrami2670
Crow Wing26514
McLeod2400
Le Sueur2371
Martin2125
Chisago2111
Otter Tail2094
Goodhue2089
Cottonwood1800
Becker1641
Pipestone1619
Polk1614
Waseca1571
Carlton1490
Itasca14612
Douglas1441
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Pine1320
Murray1251
Chippewa1191
Morrison971
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Rock890
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Fillmore730
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Renville675
Lincoln610
Grant574
Swift571
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Yellow Medicine530
Houston490
Pope480
Aitkin421
Norman400
Hubbard370
Kanabec372
Redwood370
Wilkin353
Marshall300
Wadena280
Mahnomen271
Big Stone250
Lake240
Red Lake240
Stevens220
Traverse150
Clearwater140
Lac qui Parle90
Lake of the Woods70
Cook60
Kittson30

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51101

Reported Deaths: 965
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10800210
Woodbury378354
Black Hawk324566
Linn250389
Johnson216521
Dallas195135
Scott180815
Buena Vista180112
Dubuque177031
Marshall147527
Pottawattamie140029
Story120315
Wapello94336
Muscatine88048
Webster8678
Crawford7433
Cerro Gordo67119
Sioux6713
Warren5972
Tama56129
Plymouth49312
Jasper49028
Wright4851
Clinton4504
Dickinson3874
Louisa37814
Washington30710
Boone2783
Franklin25912
Hamilton2561
Bremer2407
Des Moines2262
Clarke2103
Clay2101
Carroll2082
Emmet1974
Marion1930
Shelby1931
Hardin1890
Floyd1753
Jackson1671
Benton1641
Allamakee1624
Poweshiek1608
Henry1464
Mahaska14417
Guthrie1425
Lee1415
Buchanan1401
Cedar1361
Jones1362
Butler1332
Madison1302
Delaware1291
Humboldt1271
Hancock1252
Lyon1242
Pocahontas1202
Clayton1163
Harrison1161
Cherokee1101
Winnebago1080
Winneshiek1061
Kossuth1020
Page1010
Taylor1000
Iowa981
Palo Alto980
Fayette960
Mills951
Monona931
Calhoun922
Cass901
Jefferson890
Osceola880
Sac870
Grundy861
Mitchell830
Union831
Monroe758
Lucas744
Worth710
Chickasaw620
Davis622
Montgomery624
Howard550
Appanoose533
Fremont450
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Keokuk411
Van Buren391
Adair380
Ida330
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Adams170
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