Justice for Sherry Brown: Prevent housing discrimination in Texas.

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My mom left prison in 2004 and has worked hard to build a life for herself and her family but is facing staggering challenges to find housing because of her shows she was in prison 14 years ago. After someone leaves prison, they face incredible barriers to finding employment and housing, making reintegration into society extremely challenging. It’s why four in ten offenders return to state prison within three years of their release.

I saw this with my mom. She went to prison for a financial crime and then, when unable to find a job or housing to provide for her family upon her release, committed another financial crime to keep a roof over her family’s head and ended back in prison.

She has not reoffended since, yet for the last four months, she has been on the verge of being homeless. She has applied for housing at more than a dozen places but keeps being denied because of her record, even though her offenses were completely nonviolent. Everyone makes mistakes, and ex-offenders shouldn’t have to pay for them their whole lives. Preventing people like my mom from having a place to live isn’t fair, and makes it impossible for them to better themselves through employment.

I have two goals and need your help. First, I want to put my mom’s case before Governor Greg Abbott. Since she has two convictions, even though they are non-violent, non-sexual offenses, her record can be expunged only via a pardon by a sitting governor. And second, I want to put this issue in front of the legislature again so that more people have a second chance to successfully build their lives and not be forever haunted by a non-violent, non-sexual crime they committed years ago.  

Recidivism is a vicious cycle. Ultimately, prison extends far beyond the prison walls because the deck is already stacked against offenders once they are released. My mom is a great example of one of a Texan deserving of a second chance.

Join me in asking Governor Abbott to grant my mom a pardon and the Texas legislature to take criminal justice reform one step further by expanding the state’s current expungement laws so that more deserving Texans can have their criminal records sealed or expunged.