Current Campaign:

BEHIND THE WALLS

who we are

DARE members formed the Behind the Walls Committee over two decades ago in resistance to the prison system.

We are a community of people who have been impacted by incarceration. Some have records and others are loved ones of people behind bars. Our community’s victories include voting rights for formerly incarcerated people; increased access to public housing for folks with records; and Ban the Box legislation that made it illegal for an employer to require an applicant to disclose their record. We offer care and support for each other as we navigate the challenges of life post-incarceration.

The Behind the Walls committee is supported by DARE member dues, sustaining donors, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, The Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement (FIPCFM), NEO Philanthropy’s Circle for Justice Innovations Fund, Common Stream Foundation, RI Foundation, & Unitarian Universalist Fund for a Just Society.

woman speaking at incarceration rally behind the walls

Meetings

The Behind the Walls committee meets every Wednesday from 6-8 pm at DARE.

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Fair Chance Licensing

In 2020, with support from over 40 allied organizations, Behind the Walls passed the statewide Fair Chance Licensing Bill! This bill creates an opportunity for people with conviction histories to seek meaningful, stable careers ranging from barber to nurse to social worker to real estate agent. One in three Rhode Islanders have a conviction history and face discriminatory barriers in meeting basic needs, from housing to employment. Our bill is a small but significant step toward repairing the vast harm that mass criminalization has inflicted on Black and brown communities.

Our bill went into effect in January 2021. Before the law passed, there were over 150 laws creating barriers for people with records who were applying for occupational licenses. Our bill creates a transparent process in which you cannot be denied a license unless your record is relevant to the job in question.

Know Your rights

Have you been denied or discouraged from applying for a license you need for a job because of your record?

We are currently working on outreach to people with records, employers, and training programs about changes to the law. We will be tracking and supporting applicants on our end to hold agencies accountable and ensure that the bill is being implemented. If you or somebody you know is interested in pursuing an occupational license after release and would like support in that process, please contact us.

To learn more about the campaign, our coalition, and the bill, check out our Fair Chance Licensing website:

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