team comes to
In September, after applying fresh paint to the walls and moving in desks, the Ivy Tech Expungement Team opened its community-based efforts in a first floor office at Broadway (a space that once housed the Food Pantry, which is now on the ground floor).
The goal of the two-year-old Ivy Tech initiative is to reintegrate people with criminal offenses into our communities where they can live, learn, work, and thrive.
The reality is that years after an individual is arrested or convicted of a offense — and years after he or she has completed a sentence, if applicable — when seeking a job, housing, a loan, schooling, or public benefits, he or she is likely to encounter major barriers.
Criminal record expungement, which is allowed by Indiana law, can change that, giving someone a second chance.
Expungement entails the removal of criminal records from public inspection, such as a criminal background check. When successful, criminal record expungement can lead to increased employment, housing, education, and other opportunities.
While there are some crimes that cannot be expunged due to the nature of the offense, most crimes can be expunged after a prescribed number of years and the requisite process and paperwork.
Our friends down the street:
Ivy Tech brings much to the table
When Joann Phillips started working at Ivy Tech 10 years ago, she immediately set out to find just the right program in the community for her students to hone their skills. As Program Chair for Human Services, she wanted her Ivy Tech students to make a difference in the community.
And just a few blocks away, she found her place. Faculty member Jennifer Byers directed her to Broadway Christian Parish. “I went over there and got hooked,” says Joann. She got the go-ahead from Violet Hawkins, dean of the Business and Public Services Division, and the program began.
Joann immediately began sending Ivy Tech students to Broadway to fulfill service assignments, and several are still there years later. Kenny Jones, hospitality room coordinator, and Laurianne Stamm, office manager, both started as interns with Ivy Tech.
A partial list of partnership programs is included in the box at right. But it became clear during the meeting at Ivy Tech on April 7 that Ivy Tech is particularly focused on the expungement program. The Indiana expungement law, known as the Second Chance Act, was first passed in 2011. The first version of Indiana expungement only allowed for the “sealing” of conviction records. The 2013 version changed this and required the destruction of criminal records and all supporting investigative reports. The newest version, passed in 2015, is more like the original version, in that no records are actually destroyed, they are simply permanently hidden from public view.
The evolution of this law has posed a challenge that Ivy Tech and Broadway are committed to meet. Violet Hawkins sees expungement as “elemental.” “It’s like food,” she says. “You cannot function in this society with that (criminal record) on your back. This is going to help people long-term to get up from poverty and marginalization.” She says they have helped scores of people get their records cleared. Ivy Tech has three grants in the works now for federal assistance in this endeavor.
Joann turned to Broadway long-time member Ronda Hughes to get Broadway involved (see articl at right). It’s more than simply clearing arrest records. The process includes getting driver’s licenses. Using Broadway’s address as their own has enabled people to have mail delivered to them. Ronda helps Broadway’s guests get necessary documents, such as IDs and birth certificates. And, in order to vote, a person must have a legal address. Broadway has stepped up to the plate there, as well. At least 40 people have recently been registered to vote. Belinda Whisman, service learning coordinator, works with Joann at Ivy Tech. She came to Ivy Tech by way of the military. A disabled veteran who served in Korea, Belinda worked at Memorial Hospital for seven years in food services, but wanted to do more. “I went to serve one Sunday dinner at Broadway, and I really liked it.” Her courses at Ivy Tech enabled her to do service work at Broadway. At last year’s Jubilee
Joann Phillips , standing left, and Conrad Damian, standing right, confer with Ivy Tech Dean Violet Hawkins, bottom left, Sheneka Scales, and Belinda Whisman on April 7, 2016.
Ivy Tech refurbished and updated a donated computer and gave it to Broadway.
Broadway's new website - the one you are reading right now - was designed by an Ivy Tech student.
Broadway's food pantry welcomes Ivy Tech students to use its services.
Ivy Tech faculty donated 200 bus passes to Broadway guests.
Ivy Tech has sent interns to Broadway for more than 10 years.
Summer Book programs are brought to us by the Broadway and Ivy Tech partnership.
Ivy Tech is our good neighbor
Christmas Store, she also got Bethel College students involved to help make toiletry bags as gifts for all the guests. “One of the things that is good about this partnership is that Ivy Tech is in the city, so it serves city students,” says Conrad Damian, Broadway’s anchor to the rest of the community.
“Social justice ties it all together,” adds Joann. “Sharing the neighborhood we all care about.”
“Neither can turn a blind eye to the other,” says Belinda.
“It’s a really great relationship that is continuing to evolve,” says Conrad.