“More than 44,000 collateral consequences exist nationwide. These include civil law sanctions, restrictions, or disqualifications that attach to a person because of the person’s criminal history and can affect the person’s ability to function and participate in society.”
We know from personal experience—and the stories of our friends—how this plays out in our daily lives. We know, for instance, how hard it is to re-establish ourselves financially after jail or prison, and to overcome the landlords’ resistance to allowing people like us to rent their apartment. We live in Georgia, a state that allows private employers to learn about our incarceration history—and almost never give us a chance, before rejecting our application, to talk about who we really are. In re-establishing our lives, we have struggled with a host of structural barriers to employment: for example, laws that prevent people with felony convictions from getting accounting, banking, nursing, and real estate licenses. Even when we get a job, we have been denied advancement within the company because of stigma.
The Protected Campaign is a broad campaign designed to amend local municipal ordinances to make formerly incarcerated people a legally protected class, joining race, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. Our strategy was to first pass such legislation in Atlanta and then to partner with groups in other cities to pass similar local legislation. Our long-term goal is the inclusion of formerly incarcerated people as a state and federally protected class.
Read the Our PowerPoint Overview about Our Protected Campaign:
“Leveraging Local Legislation as a Springboard for Federal Wins,” from an October 2022 talk given by Barred Business co-founder Bridgette Simpson at the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Girls and Women’s annual FreeHer Conference. Download here
Around 80% of incarcerated women are mothers and are the primary provider for their children
Did you know that 59% of Georgia’s incarcerated people are poor & black?
To liberate, activate and build power for those most impacted by mass incarceration through making justice-impacted people the 8th protected class. We are not free when we have no rights to live as human beings!
"IT’S A WIN! Formerly Incarcerated People Established as Atlanta’s Twelfth Protected Class"
In October, 2022, the Atlanta City Council voted unanimously in favor of the Protected Campaign’s agenda to make formerly incarcerated people a protected class. We led the coalition that tirelessly fought for the historic win. We got invaluable support from both the members of the Atlanta Protected Coalition and our six M4BL Freedom Fall Fellows, formerly incarcerated Black women who regularly did deep canvassing in justice-impacted communities.
Endorsers of the legislation, activists and organizers are not stopping here. Phase two of the Protected Campaign involves making sure that the ordinance is properly enforced. We’re organizing other justice groups of people who are legally protected in the city to play an active role in ensuring its implementation. Working with these groups, we will be pressuring the Atlanta Human Relations Commission, which investigates and hears complaints regarding discrimination and makes recommendations for their resolution, to resume holding four regular meetings each calendar year and comply with all public notification requirements as stipulated by state law. These meetings will be attended by at least one organizational representative of each of Atlanta’s 12 protected classes. We will also serve as a resource for formerly incarcerated people who need support or information about bringing a discrimination claim, through setting up and staffing an emergency 800 phone number to receive the complaints. We will set up this phone system so that callers can reach one or more organizations that serve other protected groups of people.
“If we don’t learn the lesson that is staring us in the face we will continue to produce casualties
of mass incarceration. The State violence, enacted through policy, that keeps people locked out
of jobs, housing, education and healthcare is an engine that keeps perpetuating the cycle of
violence and lack of safety that we are experiencing in our communities. The elected officials of
this city should want to make history, not repeat it.”
“The city now has the opportunity to lead the way for the entire country by ending the shameful practice of legalized discrimination in housing, employment, education, healthcare, and many more contexts against those who are justice impacted. The time is now.”
Ruha Benjamin, author and professor of
African American Studies at Princeton University
Mary Hooks, National Field Secretary, Movement 4 Black Lives; former Director, Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
“This is an important step in the city of Atlanta,” “Addressing the harm caused to people when they are prevented from reintegrating into the community due to involvement with the criminal legal system is critical.”
“Our institutions and elected officials have a responsibility to mitigate harm for all of their constituents, especially those most impacted by state violence. The City of Atlanta made the right decision in establishing justice-impacted people as a protected class. Now, we are calling on our electeds to be accountable and continue the fight for liberation.”
Dr. Rashad Richey, political analyst for CBS News Atlanta
and television anchor for the national TV news show,
“Indisputable with Dr. Rashad Richey”