Priority Issues

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Pioneer advocates for a range of issues that remove barriers and increase opportunities for the people we serve. We believe that people have the ability to change and that a criminal record should not be a life sentence that bars people from becoming productive members of our communities. Read about what we advocate for below, and catch up on a few Myths and Facts surrounding formerly incarcerated individuals.

Housing Access – We endorse efforts to increase housing availability for people with criminal histories. No one should be forced into homelessness or put their family’s housing stability at risk simply because they have a past record.

The City of Seattle Fair Chance Housing - In 2018, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed the Fair Chance Housing ordinance. This new law will not allow landlords to screen applicants based on past arrests or criminal convictions. It also prohibits advertisements from banning people with criminal histories, so ads may no longer include words like “No felons” or “No convictions.” The legislation does not apply to people registered as sex offenders who committed their crime as an adult (records for offenses committed as a juvenile will not be allowed to be considered) but it does require landlords to have a justifiable reason if they deny someone who is registered.

We will be working to expand this law to other municipalities and state-wide so that more people can be protected from this type of housing discrimination. 

Legal Financial Obligations - Pioneer advocated with our allies and passed legislation in 2018 that reformed the legal financial obligation (LFO) system by eliminating non-restitution interest and providing clear guidelines for judges in determining indigency and standards for imposing LFOs. This progress is a positive step forward and will help people with this financial burden that keeps them in debt. We believe that stronger reform is still needed for things including addressing the 12 percent interest rate on restitution. For help with LFO issues in Seattle please contact Columbia Legal Service’s Reentry Clinic.

Vacating Criminal Records - A criminal conviction can mean a lifetime of consequences that continue after a person’s prison sentence is complete. These consequences can affect employment, business opportunities, housing, student loan obtainment and more, making it difficult to become a productive member of society. Families and communities both suffer when formerly incarcerated individuals cannot successfully reintegrate. Pioneer will work for policies that make vacating the record, and the record sealing process, easier to navigate and more equitable.

Employment - We support local, state and federal proposals to reduce barriers to employment. Pioneer Human Services has worked with allies for years to address employment issues in multiple cities, and last year Ban the Box passed the state legislature. We now join 10 other states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont) that have also mandated the removal of conviction history questions from job applications for all employers.

Other Issues - We also support proposals that help individuals:

  • Secure IDenticards when releasing from prison
  • Obtain professional licenses and certifications
  • Restore their rights

Also did you know that in early 2016, the Reentry Council was created when the Washington State legislature created the Statewide Reentry Council? Pioneer worked closely with Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle) and members of the faith community to pass the bill. The Council is reviewing, studying, and making policy and funding recommendations to the Legislature and the Governor on issues relating to reentry and reintegration of offenders. Additionally, the Council will establish and manage programs and initiatives related to successful reentry and reintegration. For more information click HERE.

We encourage you to contact us with questions and suggestions at communications@p-h-s.com.

Research - Read studies and reports related to, or specifically about, the programs and services offered by Pioneer.